Catholic Church in the Nordic countries

The Catholic Church in the Nordic countries was the only Christian church in that region before the Reformation in the 16th Century. Since then, Scandinavia has been a mostly non-Catholic (Lutheran) region and the position of Nordic Catholics for many centuries after the Reformation was very difficult due to legislation outlawing Catholicism. However, the Catholic population of the Nordic countries has seen some growth in the region in recent years, particularly in Norway, in large part due to immigration and to a lesser extent conversions among the native population.


In Sweden, a patent letter of tolerance rescinded anti-Catholic laws and Catholics were once again allowed to settle and practice their religion in 1781 under Gustavus III.[1] The Vicariate Apostolic of Sweden was founded in 1783. It was elevated to a diocese in 1953.[2]

The Norwegian Constitution of 1814 denied Jews and Catholics (particularly Jesuits) entrance in Norway. It also stated that attendance in a Lutheran church was compulsory. The ban on Catholics was lifted in 1842, and the ban on Jews was lifted in 1851. At first, there were multiple restrictions on the practice of Catholicism; only foreign citizens were allowed to practice, and after the first post-reformation parish was founded in 1843, Catholics were only allowed to celebrate Mass in this one parish. In 1845 most restrictions on non-Lutheran Christian denominations were lifted, and Catholics were now allowed to practice their religion freely and invite most religious orders to settle in the country. However, members of the Society of Jesus would not be allowed to enter Norway until 1956.

Notable Nordic Post-Reformation CatholicsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Religionsfreihet" (in Swedish). Projekt Runeberg.
  2. ^ "Diocese of Stockholm".
  3. ^ "Bishop Anders Arborelius".
  4. ^ "Bielke" (in Swedish). Projekt Runeberg.
  5. ^ "Maria Elisabetta Hesselblad (1870 - 1957)".
  6. ^ "Vallquist, Gunnel" (in Swedish). Swedish Academy.