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Chris Nilsen

What is a 'Public Absolution"?

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Chris Nilsen

Dear Forum,

I have seen Public Absolutions mentioned many times in church books and transcribed sources.

I was wondering if someone could tell me what they are and do they tell any useful information?



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Erling T. Endresen

Some sins were so bad that you had to confess for the congregation, in church, for instance for giving birth without being married, which was the most common reason why you had to "absolve" in public.  The preast for example read a letter from the sinner, who was standing on the floor in the church so that everyone could see her (or him), in the letter one admitted the wrong thing one had done, asked  for forgiveness and at last the congregation said "we forgive you" or something like that.  This happend long time ago, exept in a few rare churches in south-west Norway where I had my childhood.  I can remember "public absolvation" for sins like beeing pregnat without being married, drinking too much alcohol, having left the church and begging for becoming a member again or having talked very badly to other persons so that everyone talked about it.  I am not sure if these small congregations still practise this form of "punishment", though they did about 10-15 years ago.  I remember the priest said "I forgive" and the rest of us said "Me too".  Then everything was left behind.  (We talk about Lutheran churches).


Endret av Erling T. Endresen

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Chris Nilsen

Thank you Erling,

that all makes sense. Especially when I can find an illegitimate child born to the person around the same time as their public absolution. 

Bit difficult to hide your sin when it's right out in front of you. 



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