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Vestervig Church, Denmark


Roskilde, Denmark

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Artist's Description

About 1030 Saint Thoeger fled from Norway and settled at Vestervig and built the first wattle and clay church in Thy. He began to teach the local people about Christianity without much success.
One night Thoeger slept on the ground at the Vestervig marketplace. In the morning where his head had been, a spring began to run. The Danes counted this as miraculous and soon Thoeger had his congregation. A church was built near the spring and even in the 1800s people drank water from the spring hoping to cure ailments. One did not have to visit the spring in person, if health prevented it, just to drink the water was enough.
One day Thoeger visited a nearby farm where he met a man standing at his doorway complaining about his bad luck with livestock. Thoeger replied, “Put up the cross of Christ where here none has stood before, so will your luck improve!” Immediately a spring burst out of the ground on the spot and people flocked to it for its restorative properties. A cross was raised at the site everafter.
After his death, 24 June 1067 Thoeger was declared a local saint. (This was before saints were approved by the curia in Rome.) King Svend Estridsen objected since Thoeger had been a close advisor to his old enemy Olav II of Norway. On 30 October 1117 Thoeger’s remains were moved inside the church for the veneration of the faithful. But the story doesn’t end there. Thoeger made one final appearance. He appeared to the priest of the church the night of his translation into the church dragging one of his legs. He explained that one of his bones had not been included in the reliquary; it was still buried in Thoeger’s old grave. The next morning the grave was opened and just as Thoeger had said one of his leg bones had been overlooked. It was dusted off and placed inside the reliquary and Thoeger didn’t bother the priest again.
The abbey church and Vestervig church with the sacred spring were both dedicated to Saint Thoeger and were locally important as pilgrimage sites. Thoeger’s fame as a healer spread far beyond Thy.
After the destruction of St. Thoeger’s Church in 1752, an abbey church (the present church) became the parish church for the town of Vestervig. The church tower has two bells still in use from the abbey days.

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