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King Harald attends consecration of historic new church figure

King Harald of Norway was in Bjørgvin’s Bergen Cathedral to watch the city’s new bishop consecrated in a historic moment. 

On Sunday, 16 April, Ragnhild Jepsen became the first woman to become a bishop in the Church of Norway, and state and local authorities were present abundantly for the occasion. 

Together with King Harald, there were also the Minister of Children and Families, Kjresti Toppe, the Minister of Labour and Social Inclusion, Marte Mjøs Persen, the Storting’s second Vice President Nils T. Bjørke, the Chief of Police, and the Mayor of Bergen, among others. 

The consecration service was conducted by Bishop Olav Fykse Tveit, the President of the Bishops’ College, who offered a speech during the ceremony in which he highlighted the significance of the moment in which Jepsen was consecrated. 

He said in part: “It is also particularly meaningful for Bjørgvin diocese and for our whole church that it is happening right now [after Easter] when you are warmly welcomed as the first woman to enter this task here. This year, the Easter Sunday Gospel was precisely about the women who came to the empty tomb. They had many kinds of thoughts and feelings when they got there and when they left. But they had the courage, will and ability to pass on what they had seen and heard.” 

A sentiment echoed by the new Bishop in her first sermon: “We need to be inspired by people who believe! To hear that it is not so difficult. Faith should not be trivialized; believing in the resurrected Christ is not a simple solution that provides answers to otherwise insoluble tasks.”

Throughout the service, music was provided by cathedral cantors Kjetil Almenning and Sigurd Øgaard, accompanied by the Bergen Cathedral Girls Choir and a group of brass players. Among others, they performed “Sunniva kongsdotter,” a piece commissioned to composer Knut Vaage as the musical gift for the new Bishop. 

Bjørgovin is one of Norway’s five historic bishoprics, and Bergen has been the centre of the territory since 1170. Ragnhild Jepsen is the 35th Bishop to serve in Bjørgvin following the 1537 Reformation and is the first-ever woman to be appointed to the role, so the King’s presence was highly symbolic for such a historic moment.