Feast of St. Thorfinn of Hamar (January 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  Ruins of Old Hamar Cathedral, Completed in the 1200s

Image in the Public Domain

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ST. THORFINN OF HAMAR (DIED ON JANUARY 8, 1285)

Roman Catholic Bishop of Hamar, Norway

The Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is a long-term and running project I have created.  It is fair to say that this a good habit and morally healthy hobby.  I write these words in November 2010 with the intention of publishing them in early January 2011, for I intend to prepare and store a number of drafts, revising them as I think necessary before publishing them.  Beside, I have decided that this post will  inaugurate the 2011 phase, or Version Delta, of the Ecumenical Calendar.  (I like the Greek alphabet, hence Version Delta, not the Fourth Edition.)

The Feast of St. Thorfinn of Hamar is good way to commence Version Delta, for he had to choose between two kings:  Jesus of Nazareth and Eric II of Norway.  St. Thorfinn chose to follow Jesus.

Few details of the life of St. Thorfinn have survived the ravages of history.  We do know, however, that he, born at Trondheim, Norway, might have been a monk prior to becoming bishop.  This dearth of information is of little concern, for how Thorfinn conducted himself as Bishop of Hamar demonstrated why “St.” precedes his name today.  In 1282, King Eric II (reigned 1280-1299) revoked a 1277 agreement liberating the Norwegian Roman Catholic Church from royal control.  The king eventually forced his opponents inside the church out of the realm.  Exiled bishops included not only St. Thorfinn, but Archbishop Jon Raude and the Bishop of Oslo.  The saint suffered numerous hardships, including a shipwreck, before finding a safe haven at the Abbey of Ter Doest, near Bruges, in Flanders, now Belgium.  There he impressed the monks with his inner fortitude and good character.  And there the saint died.

The old Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamar existed from 1152 to 1537, during the Protestant Reformation.  (The present-day Diocese and Cathedral of Hamar, both of the Church of Norway, a Lutheran denomination, date to the 1860s.)  The old cathedral suffered various depredations after 1537, experiencing secular purposes and great neglect, until Swedish forces burned Hamar, destroying the cathedral in 1567, during the Northern Seven Years’ War (1563-1570).  St. Thorfinn died in exile, his diocese has ceased to exist, and only ruins of his cathedral stand, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ continues.

This true story inspires me to quote a hymn, “In the cross of Christ I glory,” with words by John Bowring (1792-1872):

1.  In the cross of Christ I glory,

towering o’er the wrecks of time;

all the light of sacred story

gathers round its head sublime.

2.  When the woes of life o’ertake me,

hopes deceive, and fears annoy,

never shall the cross forsake me:

lo, it glows with peace and joy.

3.  When the sun of bliss is beaming

light and love upon my way,

from the cross the radiance streaming

adds new luster to the day.

4.  Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,

by the cross are sanctified;

peace is there that knows no measure,

joys that through all time abide.

5.  In the cross of Christ I glory,

towering o’er the wrecks of time;

all the light of sacred story

gathers round its head sublime.

In the name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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God of history, we thank you for the life and legacy of your faithful servant, St. Thorfinn of Hamar, who resisted royal control of the Norwegian Church and died in exile.  May we obey you steadfastly during difficult times and, by grace, go from strength to strength and maintain good moral character.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 16

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 5:1-16

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 19, 2010 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF F. BLAND TUCKER, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF ST. ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY, PRINCESS

THE FEAST OF FRANZ SCHUBERT, COMPOSER

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Revised on November 13, 2016

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Posted January 1, 2011 by neatnik2009 in January, Saints of the 1200s

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