Shepherd or Servant? The Private and Public Lives of the Pastor

AKH and PRIVACY seminar with Mattias Skat Sommer 

Section for Church History and Centre for Privacy Studies have invited Mattias Skat Sommer to give a seminar on the Danish reformer, Niels Hemmingsen (1513-1600).

Sommer holds a PhD in church history from Aarhus University (2019), and he gives an introduction to his talk here:”

My talk will study in detail Niels Hemmingsen’s handbook for the pastor, published in Copenhagen in 1562 under the title Pastor sive pastoris optimvs vivendi agendiqve modvs. During the course of the Reformations in Europe, it became clear that many parish pastors needed basic literature to consult in matters doctrinal and practical. From the territories, states, cities, and countries turning Lutheran, a vast material stands out while there was no Reformed counterpart to this practical aid for the pastors. Whereas Lutheran pastors like their Reformed colleagues were teachers and preachers, they were also in charge of private confession and the administration of the sacrament at the deathbed—two liturgical acts rejected by the Reformed. So, more than Reformed pastors, Lutherans needed assistance concerning the liturgical practice of the ministers of the church. What I want to focus on, however, is how the very ethos of the pastor is presented by Hemmingsen, rather than on the specific duties, though they of course are integral to this ethos and will be discussed when necessary. Hemmingsen’s Pastor, it becomes clear, is a way of framing in Biblical terms the ideal life of a pastor. Drawing on the intellectual strategy of sacra pagina, ‘Bible’ here is a way of life, and ‘text’ is something in which one can dwell and act.

Some remarks about the memory of Hemmingsen the pastor as it was negotiated in early modern visual culture will serve as an introduction to the theme.


The seminar will take place  29 april from 15-17 and is open to all.

Niels Hemmingsen, painted in 1595