The oldest part of Forshem's Church is the nave from the middle of the 12th century. The present vaults are late medieval. The chancel is not original and was built in the 13th century. The most thorough changes were made in the 1760´s when the church was transformed into a cruciform church. It was restored in 1939 when the 17th century paintings were uncovered from underneath the whitewash of the walls.
1. The building of the church
Relief on the west side (the tower)
Christ in the center of the relief blesses the building of the church. To the left there's a stone mason and to the right the founder of the church (neither known by name).The founder, who offers Christ a Graal, is depicted as a knight or maybe a crusader.
2. The consecration
South side, above the door
Inscription: ISTA ECCLESIA SIT: IN HONORE D(OMI)NI: N(OST)RI IH(ES)U: XPI (=CHRISTI) ET S(AN)C(TI) SEPULCRI ("May this church be consecrated in honour of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Grave"). Christ is surrounded by two of his disciples: S:t Peter and S:t Paul. The Roman Alfabet is introduced (Runic alfabet co-existed for several hundred years)
3. The Saints
South side, at the top
S:t Martin of Tours, France (left)
Shows the legend of Martin becoming a follower. A symbol for mercy and charity
S:t Claus of Myra, Turkey (right). The protector of seamen and trade. (Note the little ship at the top).
4. The Maltese Cross Engravery
South side, left side of the door
A kissing cross believed to be engraved in the 12th century. This kind of cross is quite rare. Is found also in S:t Helena's Chapel (by the Holy Sepulchre) in Jerusalem.
The Passion of Christ
Three reliefs showing the death and resurrection of Christ. Reliefs on the north side and in the church porch.
5. The Crucifixion and the taking down of Christ's tormented body
6. Christ in limbo delivering souls from evil
7. Easter Day. The Angel, the Three Marys at the grave and the resurrection of Christ
8. The lily stones
South side, threshold
The lily stones are unique for this part of Sweden. 400 are known to exist in Sweden, of which 100 in Götene municipality/10 in Forshem. They symbol the tree of life, the resurrection of Christ and eternal life, depicting steps at the bottom, a stem and branches in blossom. Frequent pattern in Bysantium.
Also visit the Forshem Stone Museum on the opposite side of the road, exhibiting 20 fragments of lily stones and grave stones, including an Irish 12th century cross.
A living congregation
This is a living parish church. People have been baptized, married and buried in this church for nine hundred years. The walls are embedded with praise and prayers. Especially note
- The baptismal funt. (A copy of the original 12th century work)
- The bride benches (18th century)
- The memorials (Burial coat-of-arms, sepulchral chamber, tombstones)