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Photographer's Note

This small series on village churches in Norway continues with another view of the church of Loen and its 1000 years old celtic cross.
Loen church is located in the centre of Loen, with a view in all directions, and overlooking the Nordfjord. The church was built in 1837, but on the same spot there was previously a stave church dating back as early as 1360. There is a thousand-year Celtic stone cross by the church. This is one of the oldest Christian monuments in the country.

The Lodalen catastrophes (with extracts from Nordfjord website)

On Wednesday, 16 September, 1936, the small octagonal church in Loen was the mourning place for the bereaved after one of the most tragic natural catastrophes in this country. In nearby Lodalen a large portion of a rock wall collapsed in the lake, causing a tsunami like wave that flooded surrounding lake hamlets. Outside the church 21 coffins were lined up with bodies from this second Lodalen disaster.
The funeral was broadcast on national radio. Only the closest relatives were allowed inside the church. The then Crown prince Olav sat in the chancel, representing the Royal Family. His presence conveyed the Royal Family's sympathy in the tragedy that had hit the small rural community so incredibly hard three days earlier.
The day of the funeral was marked by quiet mourning and the gravity of the moment. The Loen vicar in 1936, Eilert Eriksen, later gave his account how it was to be standing in the midst of this tragic event. He simply put it like this: "There is a kind of sorrow that is so hard to understand that we fail to find words to express it. We can only sit down and weep together." After the first funeral, others followed. A total of 33 bodies were found and buried. The remaining 41 persons who lost their lives vanished in the Lovatnet lake.
However, this was actually the second time that disaster struck the rural community. Some 30 years earlier, in 1905, a large slab broke loose 500 metres up in the mountainside of Ramnefjellet and crashed into the Lovatnet lake. It caused a tremendous flood wave which nearly swept away the hamlets of Bødal and Nesdal. In the 1905 disaster 61 persons lost their lives. Only nine bodies were found, the other 52 found their graves in the lake.

The people of Lodalen were faithful church goers in the Lo church as it was then called. On the rare occasion that their seats were unoccupied, the usual reason was that they could not cross the lake that day. The church provided them with comfort to come through the tragedy that had twice struck this small rural community. Here they could mourn, and pray to God for comfort and strength.

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Additional Photos by Paul Bulteel (pauloog) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1416 W: 79 N: 1894] (11747)
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