The building of the abbey began around 1369. The abbey is also called
Blakyrkan (the Bluechurch). It is built of blue-grey limestone from
Omberg , from this the name Blakyrkan. It was consecrated in 1430 in the
presence of king Erik of Pommern and noblemen from the whole of Sweden.
Also the bishop of Linkoping was present.
The abbey is built after Birgitta´s very careful instructions.
She didn´t think that the abbey should be decorated. Exceptions were made
anyway. One example is the decorative paintings of the arches which were
found during the restoration 1978-1983. The walls had been plastered and
whitewashed too, if they had been decorated nobody knows.
The church doesn´t look the same as in the Middle Ages.
Then there was a gallery for the nuns, a Mariaaltar in the east, a procession
gallery and a barrier that separated the abbey people from ordinary people.
In the abbey there were also about sixty altars.
the church there are lots of nice sculptures and art treasures, for example
the Saint Birgitta altarlocker and one of Sweden´s most beautiful triumphal
crucifixes. One of the articles of most value is Saint Birgitta´s shrine.
It´s a velvetdressed wooden shrine with gilded fittings. The shrine is
made in the monastery and contains 23 skeletonparts and two craniums.
They are from Birgitta and her daughter Katarina.
The big organ is made by EA Setterquist and son. The small
organ was built 1950 by Nils Hammarberg.
The abbey has reviewed three restorations,1650, 1895-1898
In 1650 there was a lot of changes. The decorations from the Middle Ages
were torn out. 60 altars,galleries altars, galleries, stairs and stairledges
disappeared. Almost every pillar was torn at 1895, then new pillars were
built up again. Even the decorations were changed, with the benches turned
to the left. They are still planted like that. The paintings in the ceiling
were also whitewashed.
In the church
many are buried but that was only rich people who had money to buy themselves
a tomb inside the church. Most of them were noblemen, craftsmen or priest.
The coffin of Gustav Wasa´s son duke Magnus hangs inside
his monument. He wanted it that way because he was afraid of spiders.
When the church was restored the tombs were rearranged so
the finest tombs were moved forward.
In 1829 the abbey became a congregation church for the Swedish church.
Earlier it wasn't open to the public. Sometimes it was used for weddings
and big celebrations, often with royal persons as the arrangers.
Every year the abbey is visited by thousands of tourists.
The tourist department in Vadstena also arranges guided tours.
The abbey is not only used by Vadstena congregation but
it is also let to among others the catholic church.