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Vreta - Abbaye The monastery in Vreta, the first in Sweden, was founded by King Inge the Elder and Queen Helena (no affiliation). Initially it may have been Benedictine but in the first half of the 13th century it was incorporated into the Cistercian Order. From at least the 1160s it was a nunnery. The convent comprised some 30 nuns, possibly in addition to lay sisters. For several hundred years it was the most distinguished nunnery in the country. The Reformation put an end to its activities and the last nuns died in 1582. The dilapidated convent buildings were torn down and covered over in the 18th century. Around 1920 they were unearthed. The 900-yearold church, where the choir was the former abbey while the nave belonged to the parish, still stands and has an unbroken tradition as a living church over all these years. It is now the parish church for the community of Vreta Kloster and belongs to the Church of Sweden. It is used regularly for divine worship, official functions, lectures and concerts. Several very old fixtures and artefacts are preserved, including the triumph crucifix or rood from the late 12th century. In 2006, in connection with restoration work on the ruins, an early medieval baptistery was discovered on the site where the eastern range of the convent was later erected. In the construction the parlatorium had been built over the baptistery after this had fallen out of use. The baptistery in Vreta is the only one known in northern Europe. The arrangement is today protected by an elegant glass superstructure permitting observation.

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