The next stop on our virtual tour of Lutheran monasteries takes us to a community affiliated with the Church of Sweden – Ostanback Monastery, which is one of several communities found in that country. If you are at least somewhat familiar with the Church of Sweden, it should come as no surprise to you that Lutheran monasticism is found there, because historically, the Swedish Church has maintained a closer connection to its Catholic roots than other Lutheran churches.
At the time of the Reformation, the Swedish Church went along with the fledgling Lutheran movement and adopted the Augsburg Confession as its statement of faith. However, unlike most other Lutheran churches, the Church of Sweden maintained the practice of consecrating its bishops in apostolic succession (the first Lutheran Archbishop in Sweden, Laurentius Petri, was consecrated by Catholic bishops). The Swedish Church also maintained other elements of the Catholic tradition with greater fidelity as well – instead of writing about it, I’ll simply refer you to this brief video of a high mass at the Cathedral of Uppsala which demonstrates my point (fast-forward to about one minute into the video to watch the recessional):
Like other Scandinavian churches, though, the Church of Sweden has been in steep decline for several decades. Statistically speaking, it continues to be the largest Lutheran church in the world in terms of baptized members, but church attendance is very low, and many of its members do not subscribe to basic tenets of the Christian faith, as described in this recent article:
A faithful remnant remains in Sweden, however, and Ostanback Monastery is a part of that remnant. In 1960, a small group of theology students from Lund and Uppsala formed the Holy Cross Fraternity in order to be a part of the re-introduction of monasticism in Sweden. A decade later, the Fraternity purchased an old group of school buildings and moved in. In 1975, Bishop Bengt Sundkler consecrated the buildings for monastic use:
The community is still there, and follows the Rule of St. Benedict. One of its primary sources of income is from the making of candles:
The abbot of Ostanback Monastery is regularly invited to the conference of Benedictine abbots in Rome, where, along with abbots from Anglican Benedictine communites, he is received as an observer. For more information about the Ostanback Monastery, a portion of their website is in English: