New Altar Cloth has Unique Backstory

Posted on October 3rd, 2012 by

This photo shows part of the altar cloth needlepointed by His Majesty the King’s great grandfather that will be blessed and dedicated on Friday, Oct. 5.

When Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden visit Gustavus Adolphus College on Friday, Oct. 5, an altar cloth that has been entrusted to the College will be blessed and dedicated at the 10:30 a.m. Festival Worship Service.

The altar cloth was designed and needlepointed by His Majesty the King’s great grandfather, King Gustaf V of Sweden, an avid needlepointer. The altar cloth was originally given to Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, New York, in 1948 when the Rev. Martin L. Cornell served as pastor. Bethlehem Lutheran, a large congregation at the time, was active in welcoming Swedish immigrants as well as starting the Swedish Augustana Home for the Aged, and served as the first home of Upsala College.

In 2007 when longtime Bethlehem member Marion Palm was at Gustavus for the graduation of her son, Noah, she connected with Elsa Cornell ’61, daughter of Pastor Cornell. Since Bethlehem Lutheran was being dissolved as a congregation, the future home for the altar cloth was of great concern. Palm and Cornell encouraged Gustavus to explore with the Metropolitan New York Synod if the College might be the home for the altar cloth.

“Gustavus is honored to be the caretaker of such a treasured piece of art,” said Interim Senior Chaplain Rev. Rod Anderson. “While the altar cloth will be used for the first time on Oct. 5 when Their Majesties are present, it will be used on special occasions and seasons of the liturgical year.”

After it was determined that Gustavus would be the new home of the altar cloth, Kris Ohle established a committee to determine how to best present the altar cloth. The group decided that the cloth should be combined with undercloths on the altar and that a complete set of paraments should be designed to feature the “King’s” altar cloth. The new paraments and undercloths were crafted by area artisan Joan Miller.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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