In Sweden, flags of the Church of Sweden and its dioceses can be seen outside cathedrals and parish churches. These flags are all heraldic banners depicting the coats of arms of the Church or one of the thirteen dioceses. The use of ecclesiastical heraldry is much more elaborate and consistent in Sweden than in the other Nordic countries.
In the picture above are the banners of the Church of Sweden and the Diocese of Gothenburg, hoisted at Gothenburg Cathedral which is centrally located in Sweden’s second-largest city (in Swedish Göteborgs domkyrka, also known as Gustavi domkyrka).
The Church of Sweden (Svenska kyrkan, in Swedish) is an Evangelical-Lutheran church. It was the Swedish state church from 1536 until 2000. As of 2017 the church has close to 6 million members which equals 59 % of the population of Sweden. Antje Jackelén is the current Archbishop of Uppsala, primate of the Church of Sweden, and the first woman to hold that office.
The coat of arms of the Church of Sweden were adopted in 1977. Or, on a cross gules a crown Or is the proper heraldic blazon of the arms. The inspiration came from the arms of the Archdiocese of Uppsala: its golden cross on red was inverted to a red cross on gold. The crown is associated with Christ and Saint Eric, the patron saint of Sweden.
The arms of the Diocese of Gothenburg (Göteborgs stift, in Swedish) were adopted in 1960. The golden triangle surrounded by golden rays is inspired by the “eye of God” also adorning the crosier, or bishop’s staff, of the bishop of Gothenburg from 1955.
Apart from the City of Gothenburg, the Diocese of Gothenburg covers parts of the historic Swedish province of Västergötland and two provinces conquered from Denmark and Norway in the 17th Century – Halland and Bohuslän, respectively. The first bishop of Gothenburg was appointed in 1665. The present bishop is Susanne Rappmann. She was elected in November 2017 and consecrated bishop of Gothenburg in Uppsala Cathedral in March 2018.