Eva Spångberg was an artist who primarily sculpted biblical motifs in wood. She was placed at the top of a Kyrkans Tidning poll in 2000 to identify the most important woman of the twentieth-century within the Swedish church.
Eva Spångberg was born in Osthammar municipality in 1923. Her parents were not active members of the church. However, one Christmas when she was a young teenager, she received a nativity scene from her parents. The joy she derived from the nativity scene came to influence her future achievements as an evangelist of Christian love.
Eva Spångberg gained her school-leaving certificate in Gävle in 1944. She then gained her Bachelor’s degree at Uppsala in 1949. Between the years of 1961 and 1962 she was a special subject teacher at Kommunala Samrealskolan (municipal co-educational junior secondary school) in Vetlanda. From 1962–1963 she filled the same post at the Växjö Kommunala Flickskola (municipal girls’ school), now known as the Graffman school. Although she had wanted to become a doctor she had not been able to achieve the requisite grades. Instead she began to study nursing, but was then struck down by polio and had to suspend her studies.
However, it was as a sculptor of wood – or as she herself put it “a preacher in wood” – that Eva Spångberg made her name. She began to sculpt in wood and created a variety of figures and scenes from biblical stories, emphasising the Christian message of love. She was hired to sculpt both small and large wooden pieces which now adorn several hundred churches throughout Sweden. She primarily created distinctive crucifixes, statues of Christ, portrayals of the Virgin Mary with the child Jesus, and nativity scenes. Her pieces can be seen at Uppsala cathedral, Storkyrkan in Stockholm, Växjö cathedral, the Catholic church in Gothenburg, Rosengård Catholic church in Malmö, the Helgeands church in Lund, Adolfsberg church in Örebro, the Två Systrar chapel in Kalmar, and the Gamla Hjelmseryd church.
Eva Spångberg built a much-discussed model of the temple in Jerusalem at her farm in Gamla Hjälmseryd. When visitors arrived she would tell them about such things as the history of the Jews, their services, and their service in the temple. People came by the busload in order to visit the animals at Björkelund and to hear Eva Spångberg’s teachings. The visitors numbered between 30,000–40,000 every year.
Eva Spångberg also made appearances on TV- and radio-services where she preached her powerful yet simple message. She was a much-loved public speaker whose evangelising took both verbal and sculpted form through her wooden carvings which captivated not just excited candidates for confirmation but solemn business people as well. She also took in socially vulnerable people at Björkelund and had them help out in running her farm.
Eva Spångberg was a representative of the Swedish high church and was a close colleague of the well-known Växjö dean Gustaf Adolf Danell.
Eva Spångberg died at home when she was 88 years old on 8 November 2011.