Day 200 - Providence
Organized in 1889, Gloria Dei Evangelical Lutheran Church, 15 Hayes Street (401-421- 5860), is probably the most architecturally outstanding Swedish church in Rhode Island. At one time there were seven Swedish churches in the city. Two blocks from the State Capitol, the church was designed by Martin Hedmark and dedicated in 1928. Hedmark may have been influenced by Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred, Sweden, in designing the church’s exterior. The combination of brick and limestone facing is used on the circular corner towers with their small windows and sheet metal caps. A weathervane on the left tower has the form of a Viking ship, symbolic of the church sailing through the ages. The highest part of the dramatic edifice contains a stepped gable.
On the doors leading into the nave from the narthex are small metal medallions of people who have greatly influenced the Swedish Lutheran Church—St. Ansgarius, St. Botvid, St. Eric, St. Birgitta, Martin Luther, and Olaus Petri. The sanctuary can best be described as Art Nouveau in detail. It is marked by an array of Christian symbols. The stained-glass windows have Swedish inscriptions honoring the contributors. The window to the right of the altar depicts the Last Supper from a perspective above the table. At the top of the window is an inscription in Swedish: “Given for you for the forgiveness of sins.” The eight-sided raised pulpit with a canopy has a wood panel in gold leaf with the image of the Reverend J. E. Morton (1869-1913), a popular pastor during the first decade of the twentieth century. Morton died in Sweden and is buried in Svenljunga, where Gloria Dei and a congregation in Gävle have erected a monument in his honor.
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