Bernt Ivar Eidsvig

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His Excellency
Bernt Ivar Eidsvig
Bishop of Oslo
Apostolic Administrator of Trondheim
Bernt Ivar Eidsvig.jpg
Bernt Ivar Eidsvig in 2010
Church Roman Catholic
Diocese Roman Catholic Diocese of Oslo
Installed 22 October 2005
Predecessor Gerhard Schwenzer
Other posts Apostolic Administrator of Trondheim
Ordination 20 June 1982
by John Willem Gran
Consecration 22 October 2005
by Gerhard Schwenzer
Personal details
Born (1953-09-12) September 12, 1953 (age 63)
Rjukan, Norway
Nationality  Norwegian
Motto Labori Non Honori
Coat of arms
Coat of arms of Bernt Ivar Eidsvig

Bernt Ivar Eidsvig (former order name Markus Bernt Eidsvig) (born September 12, 1953 at Rjukan) is the Catholic Bishop of Oslo and functioning apostolic administrator of Roman Catholic Territorial Prelature of Trondheim. He was appointed on 11 July 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI, which was announced on 29 July, the feast of St. Olav. Eidsvig took office in the Catholic St. Olav's Cathedral in Oslo on 22 July 2005.

In February 2015, Eidsvig was charged with fraud in connection with a membership registry scandal involving the Catholic Church in Norway.[1]

Theological studies in Oslo[edit]

Eidsvig was born and raised in Rjukan. Before his conversion to the Catholic Church on 20 December 1977, he studied theology at the University of Oslo with a view to ministry in the Norwegian Church. He took a theological degree there with the church's historic special task of Church and Society in "The Barsetshire novels' main works of the English writer Anthony Trollope (1815-1882). He also worked ten years as a freelancer for the newspaper Morgenbladet.

Arrest and imprisonment in Moscow[edit]

Eidsvig became nationally known when, on July 14th, 1976, he was arrested by the KGB in Moscow while he was acting as a courier for the exiled Russian organization NTS. Eidsvig's mission was to deliver leaflets, renal medicine and a handbook of "rebellion" to a Soviet Russian in Moscow who had requested such a shipment, but the intended recipient was in the meantime betrayed and arrested. Agents of the KGB were therefore waiting in the apartment for Eidsvig to arrive, at which point he was arrested. He remained under arrest (in Lefortovo Prison, Moscow) for 101 days before the Soviet authorities saw fit to release him, which happened after Foreign Minister Knut Frydenlund and Prime Minister Trygve Bratteli made efforts to get him free.

The arrest attracted considerable attention both in Norway and other countries, but many reactions were negative. To a great extent the information that was presented was influenced by Soviet disinformation. It was claimed that Eidsvig was led to an action that might lead to the arrest and that what he did was stupid and ridiculous. Among other things, it was falsely claimed that he was handing out fliers in the street. This presentation characterized, among other things, Aftenposten's coverage of the case, which allowed the KGB to use clippings from Norwegian press in their interrogations of Eidsvig, to weaken his resistance.

Catholic theological studies in London and the ministry in Norway[edit]

After completing licentiate studies at Heythrop College in London, Eidsvig was ordained as a diocesan priest of Oslo Catholic Diocese of St. Olav's Cathedral in Oslo on June 20, 1982 by the then Catholic Bishop of Oslo, John Willem Gran. The next four years he served as chaplain at St. Paul in Bergen, where, on January 1, 1986, he was named pastor after Father Wilhelm Hertmann OFM. It was under his leadership that the Catholic school St. Paul Bergen was moved, expanded and newly built directly behind St. Paul's Church.

During this time, Pastor Eidsvig also functioned as a teacher at St. Paul School. He was also active in the language association Riksmålsforbundet.

Before his appointment as parish priest he served in periods in the military chaplain corps of the Norwegian Armed Forces, partly at Evjemoen north of Kristiansand and partly with the medic recruits' company in Bømoen by Voss. In Oslo Catholic Diocese, he served on the Priests' Council 1983-1990, the Consultors' Council 1987-1990, and the Pastoral Council 1988-1991.

Canons in Austria[edit]

In the summer of 1991, Eidsvig left his service in Norway and was received as a novice with the Canons of Stift Klosterneuburg in Austria, just outside Vienna. He was invested with the religious habit on 27 August 1991, and received the name Mark. He made his profession of vows on 30 August 1995. He then worked from 1997 to 2003 as pastor of St. Leopold's Church in Klosterneuburg, and from 1996 as a novice master in the monastery.

Under his leadership of the novitiate, the Stift Klosterneuburg had a more international flavor than before: Besides a number of Austrians, he could welcome to the order candidates from the United States, Germany, Norway and Vietnam (the latter by way of Norway as refugees).

He has also been chapter counselor and chapter secretary of the Stift.

Markus Bernt Eidsvig was appointed Bishop of Oslo on 11 July 2005, the announcement of this appointment being delayed to the symbolic date of July, 29th (the memorial day of Norway's patron saint, St. Olav). Eidsvig is the first Canon of Klosterneuburg to be appointed bishop since 1913, when the monastery Pastor Friedrich Gustav Piffl was appointed Archbishop of Vienna.

The consecration to bishop and the inauguration took place in Trinity Church (Lutheran, on loan from the Norwegian Church for the occasion) and St. Olav Cathedral, respectively, on October 22, 2005. (The two churches are both situated in Oslo, within a kilometer of each other.) The consecration mass was broadcast on the Internet (Web TV) via Eidsvig is the third Norwegian-born Catholic bishop in Norway since the Reformation, after Olaf Offerdahl (consecrated 6 April 1930, died 7 October the same year) and John Willem Gran (consecrated March 24, 1963, died March 20, 2008).

Fraud charge[edit]

On 26 February 2015, Eidsvig and the financial manager of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oslo were charged with felony fraud, after the diocese was reported on suspicion of registering people as members of the Roman Catholic Church in Norway without their knowing or consent. In addition to Eidsvig and the financial manager, charges has been levelled against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oslo for over the course of several years fraudulently claiming membership grants from the Norwegian government to the amount of NOK 50 million.[1]

Coat of Arms[edit]

Eidsvig coat of arms as a bishop is divided into four fields. 1. and 4 field (upper heraldic right and lower left quadrant), Oslo Catholic bishop arms (Olavsøksene, which are two axes, gold on red background), while the other two have half the arms of Klosterneuburg (T-cross upside down, silver on red background) combined with the flowering rod of Aaron (gold on blue background). Klosterneuburg arms are divided according to the rule that only the abbot (Dean) can use all the arms, while the bishops who belonged to the monastery uses half combined with another emblem. The shield is crowned with a green "prelathatt" (bishop's hat), which is a "galero" in Italian, with six green tassels on each side of a bishop's cross. (This cross is mentioned in the Codex Iuris Canonici (CIC) 1917, canon 274, § 6, and should not be confused with the usual processional cross.)

The motto is Labori non Honori, "work, not honor." It's the same motto as cardinal Piffl, Archbishop of Vienna, elected in 1913, it is the beginning of a motto in its entirety which reads "work, not honor, to my effort to be devoted." This is a reproduction (not a verbatim quote) of this sentiment expressed in St. Augustine's writings.


  • 101 dager hos KGB, Oslo 1977

The book provides a detailed description of prison conditions and the KGB personnel's interrogative and investigative methods, as Eidsvig experienced them. Eidsvig also comments on the television interview he had to contribute to before his release, and on the press conference he participated in after arriving home in Norway. (The title translates as "101 days at the KGB".)

  • Valfart til Lourdes: Et katolsk tilbud til soldater og befal (editor with Roar Haldorsen), Oslo: Unge norske katolikkers forbund, 1982

This is a brief publication mentioning the annual organized military pilgrimage to Lourdes (in France), and how interested (Norwegian) soldiers or officers may get to participate in it.

This was a key contribution in a historical overview, published on the occasion of the 150-year anniversary of the Catholic Church's return to Norway in 1843.

He has also been a staff member of the Catholic journal St. Olav.


  1. ^ a b "Biskop siktet for grovt bedrageri". Dagens Næringsliv (in Norwegian). Norwegian News Agency. 26 February 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2015. 

External links[edit]