Finland: Churches

Helka, Antti and Eila took me out for my last full day in the north so we could see some lovely sights. There are a couple of interesting  churches in Kemi, one very modern but based on the old medieval style and the other with remnants of its medieval forebears.

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This is the church at Pohjanranta, which also has a vineyard, hotel, restaurant, campgrounds and a dancing center. It’s based on the medieval model.

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The light on the birch wood creates a warm glow.

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There’s space to hang local artists’ work.

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Such beautiful woodwork.

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The dancehall next door is the biggest one in Lapland.

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Every Saturday night in the summer popular Finnish singers appear; sometimes the stage doubles for plays as well; there’s a set on the stage here, but mostly I wanted to show the size.

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Lots of hot dancers on a wooden floor!

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There’s also a horse farm and riding school.

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The hotel is really beautiful as well, and there’s more local art on display as well. You can sip the berry wines and admire the view on the banks of the Kemi river.

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The old church of St Michael was built to replace the previous wooden churches from the Middle Ages which burned down. The 14th century churches had been nearer the bay and vulnerable to raiders. Construction began on this one in 1530.

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This carried the coffin of Nikolaus Rungius, pastor during the Thirty Years War, who said, “If my words are not true, then my body shall rot, but if they are true then my body will not rot.” You can see his body on display (no photos allowed).

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Wall and ceiling paintings from the late medieval era were literally whitewashed by the Lutherans. Fortunately, they are still visible, so you can see what people were looking at while the Latin masses were being read (hardly anyone would know what was being said).

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The window paintings are much clearer.

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My buddy St Olaf: since I wrote a dissertation chapter on him, I had to take a picture. No dice, alas.

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The ceiling paintings depict the events in the life of Christ (no surprise).

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Many of the items like this baptismal font came from the medieval precursor.

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The sacristry was also the securest place with its bars on the windows and thick door. Have to keep the Vikings out somehow.

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That’s security.

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In the churchyard a lot of old graves: one of the first I saw was a Sippola, my grandmother’s family name.

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Quite an imposing edifice. They don’t build them like this anymore.

A little more history on the church here.