Gunnar Rosendal

Gunnar Rosendal (1967)

Gunnar Rosendal (4 April 1897, Grevie parish – 26 December 1988, Kristianstad) was a Swedish Lutheran priest, Doctor of Theology, and parish priest of Osby. Through his books promoting High Church Lutheran theology and spirituality, especially Kyrklig förnyelse (1935), he became a leading and disputed figure of the Catholic movement in the Church of Sweden.

Early life

Rosendal was born in Grevie, Skåne, the son of Andreas and Teolinda Rosendal. His mother died early and his father moved to the United States so he and his sister were raised by an aunt.[1] After graduating from Lunds Privata Elementarskola he began his theological studies at Lund University in 1918. He was ordained on 25 May 1922 by bishop Gottfrid Billing and moved to Väsby to begin his work as a priest.[2]


Rosendal's publications came to be of great importance to the high church movement in Sweden. Examples of his books include "Den apostoliska tron" 1-2, (1948-51), which is a complete work of high church doctrine in the form of a devotional book, and "Vårt katolska arv" (1956) (Our Catholic Inheritance). Rosendal received much publicity by his good sense of humour and his exciting and eccentric personality—he was commonly called "Father Gunnar of Osby". Thus he managed to popularize high church theology by his own example in Osby parish, which became a model for liturgical piety and the practice of High Mass and the daily office.

International contacts

Rosendal had many contacts to the liturgical movement in the Roman Catholic church, especially in Benedictine monasteries, and knew personally many theologians of the liturgical and ecumenical movement, such as Pius Parsch and Paul Couturier. He also had plenty of contacts with Anglo-Catholicism in the Church of England, e.g. to Dom Gregory Dix, and was member of Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius. Rosendal often liked to show himself as catholic as possible, but he was also rooted in the theology of 17th century Lutheran orthodoxy, which he knew well. By the recommendation of Bo Giertz he started to read books of Carl Olof Rosenius, which made a lasting impression. Rosendal himself used the neo-thomistic paradigm and resisted all kinds of liberal theology as well as the dialectical theology of Karl Barth. Rosendal was one of the theologians that worked for the foundation of the International League for Apostolic Faith and Order (ILAFO).


In Sweden his influence can be seen in the foundation of the high church organization arbetsgemenskapen Kyrklig Förnyelse (aKF), which was inspired by his book, Kyrklig förnyelse.


  1. Kilström p. 94
  2. Kilström p. 95

External links

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