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The Church of England and the Church of Sweden

Report of the Commission Appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury

In Pursuance of Resolution 74 of the Lambeth Conference of 1908
On the Relation of the Anglican Communion to the Church of Sweden.

Milwaukee: The Young Churchman, 1911.

Appendix II.

Questions which have been raised in regard to the continuity of episcopal succession in Sweden

by Arthur James Mason, D.D.,
with the aid of notes supplied by Domprost Lundström

The following memorandum is a summary of the statement made by Dr. Lundström at Upsala, afterwards confirmed by him in writing, and as far as possible verified by ourselves:--


Dr. Lundström began by making his own two observations of A. E. Knös, contained in his letter appended to the English translation of L. A. Anjou's History of the Reformation in Sweden (New York, 1859), p. 639, to the effect (i) that at the outset of the Reformation the preservation of the Apostolical Succession was a matter of great concern to King Gustavus L; and (2) that a law [of that king], which has never been broken, lays down that no bishop-elect shall before his consecration enter upon the episcopal office, preside in a diocesan chapter, perform any of the duties of the episcopate, or enjoy the revenues and emoluments of his see. One effect of this law has been to draw sharply the distinction between bishops and bishops-elect; so that Dr. Lundström says that "it is absolutely safe" to assert that during the whole of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century, with which we are mainly concerned, if a man is styled in the documents episcopus or its Swedish equivalent, he had been consecrated; otherwise, he is always called electus, or uthwald biscop (or uthwald bisp). He gives as an instance the case of Nicolaus Olai Bothniensis (tiGoo), elected to the see of Upsala in 1599, but never consecrated, who is described as electus in the original chart of the monuments in the cathedral.

The four points at which it seemed necessary to examine the history of the succession were as follows:--

i. The case of Petrus Magni, the consecrator of Laurentius Petri, the first archbishop of the Reformed Church.

The question of his consecration has been investigated in English by A. Nicholson, LL.D. (Apostolical Succession in the Church of Sweden, 1880, and Vindiciae Arosienses, 1887), with whose account of the matter, in spite of its somewhat unscientific form, Dr. Lundström professed himself satisfied.

It is now beyond doubt that Petrus, formerly Superior (Provisor) of the Brigittine Convent at Rome, was consecrated Bishop of Vesterås at Rome on 1st May, 1524. The principal proofs of the fact are:--

(a) The letter of the papal protonotary, Zutpheld Wardenberg, dated 6th August, 1524, in which he informs the Archbishop of Trondhjem that Petrus "consecratus fuit in episcopum Arosiensem dominica ante Ascensionis Domini" (Nicholson: Ap. Succ., p. 8; see C. F. Allen: Breve og Aktstykker, i, p. 271).

(b) The Diarium Vadstenense, the chronicle of the mother house of the Brigittine order, which says, in 1524, that on I5th July "venit fr[ater] noster doctor Petrus Magni de Roma, consecratus in episcfoputn] Arosiensem" (printed in Fant's Scriptores Rerum Svecicarum, vol. I., p. 218, Upsaliae, 1818).

(c) The autobiographical notes of Olaus Magni, given by Professor H. Hjärne, who discovered them at Cracow, in Teolog. Tidskrift, 1883, p. 203 foll. In these, Olaus, the (titular) Roman Catholic archbishop of Upsala, takes credit to himself for having paid fifty ducats "doctori Sudfello" (i.e., Zutpheld Wardenberg), and lent 350 more to Petrus Magnus, bishop-elect of Vesterås, to expedite his papal confirmation, "quorum solutionem ob praedicti episcopi persecutionem et mortem numquam obtinuit aut obtinebit."

(d) The register of Gustavus I.; and (e) the records of the Swedish Parliament, according to which Petrus Magni took his seat at the King's Council, not as electus, but as episcopus.

(e) His own evidence in the secret protestation of 10th August, 1531, discovered by Dr. Lundström in the archives of Strengnäs, in which he and Magnus Sommar, Bishop of Strengnäs protesting against the course of events in which they were compelled to take part, describe themselves as "nos Magnus Sommer Strengnensis et Petrus Arosiensis Dei gratia episcopi" (Lundström: Undersökningar och Aktstycken, p. 42), as they do also in the protestation of 27th August of the same year (Lundström: ibid., p. 46).

The Roman Catholic Abbé Jules Martin, in his Gustave Vasa et la Réforme en Suède (Paris, 1906), p. 241, is inclined to think, from a document discovered by him in the Vatican, that the consecration of Petrus was performed by the well-known Paris de Grassis, Bishop of Pesaro, Master of the Ceremonies to Leo X. If so, the writer of the document in question gives a wrong description of the bishop then consecrated, for he calls him "a titular bishop"; but he may easily have been misinformed on the point.

2. The case of Botvid Sunonis (+1562), Bishop of Strengnas, the consecrator of Paulus Juusten, Bishop of Abo, who in his turn consecrated Laurentius Petri II. (Gothus), Archbishop of Upsala.

The doubt in his case, as in the case of our own Bishop Barlow, who was consecrated about the same time, arises solely from there being no extant contemporary record of the consecration, the cathedral of Strengnäs having been burned in 1551. The evidence of Botvid's consecration is sufficiently given by Nicholson: p. 36 foll. But Dr. Lundström adds that the records of the Swedish Parliament, and the register of Gustavus I., most of which works were published later than Nicholson's book, give many evidences that Botvid was not a mere electus, but a full episcopus. Thus on 7th September, 1536, he is addressed in a royal letter as bishop-elect of Strengnas, but in 1539 and later he appears as bishop (Dr. Lundström gives many references to the Handlingar of the Swedish Parliament, and to K. Gustaf I.'s Registratur).

3. The case of Olaus Martini (ti6og), Archbishop of Upsala. The doubts concerning his consecration which were expressed by the Swedish Romanist, Messenius, have been repeated by such a critical inquirer as Anjou; and C. A. Cornelius: Svenska Kyrkans Historia efter Reformationen, I., p. 130, says that there are strong reasons for thinking that Olaus Martini was never consecrated.

Dr. Lundström has proved the groundlessness of this suspicion (see his Skisser och Kritiker, Stockholm, 1903, p. 118). J. Raumannus, the preacher at the archbishop's funeral, who was a professor in the University of Upsala at the time of the consecration, and was probably present at it, says distinctly that he was consecrated on (Sunday) 16th August, 1601, and the same date is given in the contemporary diary of J. T. Bureus (1601), published by Klemming in 1883. The name of the consecrator, Petrus Kenicius, then Bishop of Skara, afterwards archbishop, is given by Eric Fant in his dissertation, De successione canonica et consecratione episcoporum Sueciae, p. 12, Upsala, 1790. At our conference at Upsala, Dr. Lundström was able to produce, with dramatic propriety, the minute book of the Domkapitel of Upsala, containing records, which he had that morning discovered, the first dated 11th July, 1601. The entry for that day speaks of the consecration as still future. On a later day we read that the bishops who were called to the inauguration gave reasons for their not coming, and excused themselves. The chapter decreed that "Dominus electus" may enter upon his office (i.e., do such duties as a bishop-elect may do). It was decided that the bishops should be excused for not being present, but they were to be admonished to come at another time. The "inauguration'' was fixed to take place, "tempore S. Laurentii," i.e., in the week following August 10th. On Wednesday, 19th August, the usual chapter day, there is the record of a divorce case with the note ''Lata est sententia divortii a R. D. Archiepiscopo." From these chapter acts it is clearly to be inferred that the consecration took place, between the 10th and the 19th August, and (as was usual) on a Sunday, viz., the i6th August, the tenth Sunday after Trinity, as Buraius and Raumannus assert.

4. The case of Johannes Steuchius (11742), Archbishop of Upsala.

Steuchius had previously been "superintendent" of Karlstad, from 1723 to 1730. In January, 1730, he was appointed Bishop of Linköping, from which see he was translated to Upsala on 20th November of the same year, and entered upon his new office in 1731. In the sermon preached at his funeral there is no mention of his consecration. This fact aroused the suspicion of Dr. Lundström. What Sven Baiter says in his book on Church ceremonies (ed. Stockholm, 1762, p. 973) that "superintendents" are not consecrated, while bishops are, is not exactly true. Cases have occurred in which "superintendents" were consecrated to their office. But as a general rule they were not consecrated. If, therefore, Steuchius had been promoted from Karlstad to Linköping and from Linköping to Upsala without any further qualification beyond what he received on his appointment to Karlstad, it would seem that there would have been a break in the succession. A. O. Rhyzelius, however, who is an especially competent witness (as he was Provost of Linköping at the time--from 1720 to 1743--and became bishop of that see in 1744) asserts that Steuchius was consecrated to Linköping on i$th November, 1730, by Bishop Jesper Svedberg at Skara. See p. 149 of his Episcoposcopia Sviogothica (Linköping, 1752); and this, we think, must be true.

Since writing the above we have received from Dr. Lundström and the Bishop of Kalmar conclusive evidence that Rhyzelius' assertion is correct:--

(1) There is the original royal letter in the possession of the Chapter of Skara, dated 2nd November, 1730, instructing Bishop Svedberg to ordain and consecrate the bishop-elect, Johannes Steuchius, during the vacancy of the archiepiscopal see. A copy of this is preserved in the Riksarkiv at Stockholm.

(2) There is an entry in the Register of the Chapter of Skara, dated 7th November, 1730, stating that the royal letter had been read that day.

(3) There is an official letter, also in the Riksarkiv, from Bishop Svedberg to the king, dated 23rd November, from his official residence of Brunsbo, informing the king that he had executed his commission on the 15th of the same month.


The question was raised whether any doubts were cast upon the validity of the episcopal succession in Sweden in the time of King John III., when there was a reaction in the direction of mediaevalism and of Rome. Dr. Lundström adopted in reply the word of Knös (Anjou: ut supra, p. 640), who says that when certain bishops were to be consecrated in John's reign, the king and others desired to restore some ceremonies which had fallen into disuse at episcopal consecrations; but that not a word was said to the effect that the consecrating bishops were themselves invalidly consecrated, and, therefore, incapable of transmitting consecration. Neither King John himself, nor the Roman Legate, Possevin, who was then in Sweden, in treaty with the king, made any such objection.


It was asked whether at any time others than bishops had been permitted to ordain in the reformed Church of Sweden.

Dr. Lundström replied: "Yes, in a few exceptional cases, but in no case that affects the continuity of the Swedish episcopate." He proceeded to mention all the cases known to him, of which several had not been previously known to historians. They fell under three heads:--

1. In 1713 the Chaplain General of the Forces (as we might call him) ordained two men at Moscow to work among the captive Swedes in Russia. Wallquist (Eccl. Coll., 2, 131) indeed affirms that several similar ordinations took place in the army during the time of war, but does not substantiate his affirmation.

2. Dr. Lundström thought he remembered to have seen in an unprinted letter of Eric Benzelius Junior at Linköping that J. Serenius, then chaplain to the Swedish legation in London, was commissioned by Bishop Jesper Svedberg of Skara, who had the oversight of this London congregation, as well as of that of New Sweden on the Delaware, to ordain a man for work in the Swedish colony in North America. Whether the ordination took place Dr. Lundström did not know.

3. Baiter (ed. 1838, p. 678) says that deans of cathedral churches have sometimes, by royal permission, performed ordinations. Dr. Lundström has discovered three such instances:--

(a) In 1758, during the vacancy of the archbishopric, Asp, the Domprost, by royal permission, ordained twenty men (20th June, 1758). None of them rose to high position, or were called upon to ordain others (Baiter: l.c.).

(b) In 1764 the Domprost, Hydrén, received a similar permission "during the present vacancy of the archbishopric," and ordained sixteen men (16th December), of whom the same may be said as of those ordained in 1758.

(c) In 1775 the permission to Hydrén was renewed, and thirteen more were ordained (21st July), of whom the same holds true.

Fant and Lastbom (Upsala Herdaminne, III., p. 265 foll.) speak as if Hydren had "several times" (flera gånger) performed such ordinations. Dr. Lundström has carefully examined the registers, and is certain that it was not done by Hydren on more than these two occasions. In 1786 Hydren applied for a similar permission, and the king of that day refused, on the ground that ordination was a privilege reserved to bishops. In 1792 O. Celsius, Bishop of Lund, on account of his age and infirmity, begged the king to permit his Domprost to ordain in his stead, but the permission was again refused, and on the same grounds. These facts have not been published before.

It should be added, in illustration of paragraph two of Dr. Lundström's statement, that about the year 1700 the three Swedish pastors of the Delaware Settlement, Anders Rudman, Bjork and Sandel, ordained Justus Falckner, a Halle student, to the priesthood. When this act was cited, twenty-four years later, as a precedent for presbyterian ordination, "the four Swedish pastors disclaimed the authority to ordain, and explained the ordination of Falckner upon the ground that Rudman had been made by the 'Archbishop of Sweden' 'suffragan, or vice-bishop.'" Further, the same author who gives this information states: "That, by a commission of the archbishop and consistory in Upsala of 7th November, 1739, the two Swedish pastors in America, Dylander and Tranberg, were directed to ordain to the ministry William Malander ... an order which could not be carried out because of the death of Dylander, and the conviction on Tranberg's part that he was without authority alone to administer ordination" (See Henry Eyster Jacobs' Hist. of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in U.S.A., p. 97, ed. 5, New York, 1907).


Dr. Lundström said in conclusion: "As for several years I have been occupied with researches in the domain of ecclesiastical history, and have paid particular attention to the present question, perhaps my opinion may be considered of some value. . . . To sum up, though I think it very desirable that a monograph on the subject should be soon produced that would fully answer the requirements of modern scientific Church history, I make bold to pronounce my opinion, even in the present state of the inquiry, that the Swedish Church possesses the historic episcopate, or the so-called successio apostolica. In the previous discussion of the subject, scientific or more or less unscientific, no facts have come to light which on closer examination weaken this assertion; on the contrary, various pieces of new material have of late years been produced which tend to confirm it."

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