Sigtuna is a pretty historical town just north of Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. Where ever you walk, the history is always around you with a great presence. Among the historic buildings, the church ruins make an ever lasting impression.
Saint Olof’s ruin
Saint Olof’s ruin, named after the Norse Norweigan saint king Olof the Holy. He was a very popular saint in Sweden as well during the medieval ages and he continues to be frequently mentioned in our Lutheran Church as well today.
Olof is today the national saint of Norway and he used to be called “the eternal ruler of Norway” and had such legal status in the early Middle Ages. He lived in the 10th and 9th century. Hear more about him and some other saints on our tours. And of course also about Viking pagan culture.
So why is a church named after Olof? Sigtuna is first of all the oldest existing city/town in Sweden and has several church ruins that are both pretty and sometimes a bit mystical. Olof was a saint, and the saints were crucial in the Catholic Medieval Sweden and European Culture. In the late Middle Ages (15th century) they were so holy that critics started to call it idolatry.
By naming a church after a saint, the Christians were giving the church a sense of holiness and also legalization. For a building to be called a church it even needed to have a relic of a saint, these were all most never real bones from a specific saint but worked as a representation of that saints holiness. It was inscribed in Swedish law that the church need a relic by the high altar.
Olof became very popular in Sweden for several reasons. Norway was close both geographically and politically and Olof himself was involved with the Swedish monarchy. According to the Icelandic sagas he had an army with a lot of Swedes with him when he tried to retake the Norweigan throne in 1030 and he was about to marry a Swedish princess, even though it never happened.
Olof died at the battle of Stiklestad in 1030. The miracles that happened after the battle laid that foundation to his sainthood and huge popularity. One of his opponents touch Olof’s blood after his death, the opponent’s wound was healed.
Olof was as said one of Sweden’s most popular saints. This can be seen in the hundreds of church that have been honored to him and a lot of holy springs named after him.
Source material and read more: