St.Þorlák Day 20th of July

Þorlákur Þórhallsson is Icelands only saint. 

Þorlákur had come to  Skálholt in 1178 from the monastery of Þykkvibær, where he had been abbot.  After he became bishop at Skálholt he fought for  increased  independence of the church, which  led him into conflicts with the icelandic chieftains. These were troubled times, and increasing conflicts where different rivaling clans tried to gain more powers in Iceland.

When Þorlákur died in 1193, the Icelandic church was in need of its own saint, to add prestige and revenue for the church, and after several years with cold winters and bad harvesting, the icelandic population was in need for spiritual aid.  In year 1198 evidence was presented that  Bishop Þorlákur had worked miracles, so it was decided at  the Alþingi at Þingvellir to declare him saint.  Bishop at that time was Þorlákur's nephew Páll Jónsson, son of Jón Loftsson  ( b 1124) whom was the foster-father of Snorri Sturlusson  ( b.1179 - d.1241).

December 23th, was declared St. Þorlák Day, and  July 20th  was established as St. Þorlák Day in summer.

Here ceremonies in 16th century Skálholt described by the 18. century reverend Jón Halldórsson: 

"A great number of people gathered then in Skálholt from far and wide with much belief and invocation. The reliquary of St. Þorlákur was then borne out around the church and churchyard with a great procession, ringing of bells, lit tapers and candles and other suchlike ceremony. The Bishop and all the clergy, wearing their finest vestment, led the way, followed by the crowds singing and saying their rosaries. To be permitted to carry the reliquary was counted the greatest honor, while to walk beneath the reliquary was regarded as coffering complete absolution for sins. The most splendid celebration was held at Skálholt when magnificent gifts and votive offerings were received. "

Picture is taken at Fitjar kirkja ( Fitja church) in Skorradalur. Fitjar Kirkja is privately owned by brother and sister Karolina Hulda Guðmundsdóttir and Jón Guðmundsson whom ancestors have lived at Fitjar for centuries. 

Contact Sigrun