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1000 Years of Church Art

Today the churches constitute a cultural heritage that needs to be recognized more than ever before. The churches and the objects of art they contain are a natural aspect of a visitor's experience, and are sometimes even self-evident.

"I believe the stamps can play a role here in terms of promoting rediscovery of the country's thousands of church interiors, which together constitute a large and vibrant museum," says Ingrid Sjöström who is an associate professor of art history and who has headed an inventory project on Swedish churches for the Swedish National Heritage Board for many years.

Ingrid Sjöström is also one of the editors of a book called Kyrkornas hemligheter ("The Secrets of Churches"), which was published in autumn 2013 by Medströms Bokförlag. The book has the same aim as the stamps, which is to arouse the general public's interest in churches and in the cultural heritage found there. She also took part in a popular TV series on the same theme.

Music is a natural part of the cultural heritage in churches. Organs are traditionally associated with church interiors, and the 18th century organ from Askeryd Church in the Diocese of Linköping is depicted on one of the stamps.

"Organs were found in a few Swedish churches as early as the Middle Ages, but the instrument was not common until the 17th century. Although this instrument is not widely popular, it has reached the public at large in both rural areas and cities. In modern times, the range of music in churches is much broader, and church interiors around the country often serve as concert halls for both classical and modern music.

Candle holders made their first appearance in Sweden in Uppsala Cathedral in 1968 in conjunction with a large ecumenical meeting – which has also been recognized with a stamp. The candle holder in the shape of a ship from 2001 in Torsåkers Church in the Final day for purchase: November 8, 2014

Diocese in Härnösand is the motif for one of the stamps.

"Lighting a candle is the most common activity for the vast majority of people when visiting a church. The candle holder was regarded with skepticism by some people in the beginning, and lighting candles in the church was considered strange. We enjoy lighting candles in Sweden, however, and nine out of ten churches today have candle holders," says Ingrid Sjöström.