Karlsson Mattias, Konstruktionen av det heliga. Altarna i det medeltida Lunds stift, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2015 (Lund University)
This dissertation deals with the subject of altars in the churches of the medieval diocese of Lund. The main work on altars in the Catholic church is Joseph Braun´s Der christliche Altar in seiner geschichtlichen Entwicklung (1924). However, despite its extensive content it does not deal with the conditions in Northern
Europe. The general aim of this dissertation is to broaden our knowledge about altars in Northern Europe and,specifically, in the diocese of Lund: how were altars physically constructed, how many altars were there in different churches, and what was the significance of where altars were placed and what differentiated side-altars from main-altars in terms of types of masses performed. The line of investigation follows different paths and many details are discussed in depth, all related to the same theme: how the altars, i. e. the “holy”, were constructed. Chapter 1 is an introduction in the subject of altars and deals mainly with the sacred and associated conceptual categories. Chapter 2 is a research survey: important perspectives and lines of investigation on altars are outlined with an emphasis on the Nordic countries. Chapter 3 deals with the physical
construction of altars in the diocese of Lund. A number of different details that make up an altar are examined. The results point to notable geographical and chronological differences in the way altars were constructed. Chapter 4 is a survey of the altars in the cathedral of Lund, mainly based on written sources. The earliest altars,
dedicated during the 12th century, can be seen against the background of a coherent symbolical and liturgical program. The increased number of side-altars in Lund cathedral from the second half of the 13th century was often founded by individuals as “private” altars, but the placement of these altars and degree of solemnity in the
performance of the masses can be related to an idea of the cathedral as a differentiated holy space. The placement and names (dedications) of many side-altars can imply that they were “private” in one sense but also were seen as and can have functioned as proxy-altars in what can be described as the cathedrals “official”
liturgy. Chapter 5 deals with the altars in the lesser churches in the diocese of Lund, most of them being parish-churches. The first part is a survey of the evidence for side-altars in different parts (e. g.: nave, porch,chapel and tower) of the churches. The second part discusses the function, i.e. in relation to the main-altar, of
side-altars placed in both eastern corners of the nave, a common thing through the middle -ages, and in upper levels of towers in the Romanesque era. Chapter 6 discusses the fate of Catholic altars in the age of the Reformation and later on the awakening antiquarian interest for the remaining altars.