Thorfinn of Hamar

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Thorfinn of Hamar (died 1285) was the Bishop of the Ancient Diocese of Hamar in medieval Norway. [1] [2]

A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight.

Ancient Diocese of Hamar

The former Norwegian Catholic diocese of Hamar existed from 1152 to 1542, when the Protestant Reformation turned it into a bishopric of the Lutheran state church. The cathedral see was at Hamar, and the diocese included the (modern) counties of Hedmark, Oppland, and the middle part of Buskerud. It also included some parts of Telemark.


St. Torfinn Catholic Church in Hamar St Torfinns kirke Hamar.jpg
St. Torfinn Catholic Church in Hamar


Thorfinn was born in Trøndelag, possibly in Trondheim, Norway, and may have been a Cistercian monk before becoming Bishop of Hamar. Although he achieved a fair amount of fame as a saint, comparatively few details of his life are clearly known. [3]

Trøndelag Region and county of Norway

Trøndelag is a county in the central part of Norway. It was created in 1687, then named Trondhjem County ; in 1804 the county was split into Nord-Trøndelag and Sør-Trøndelag, and the counties were reunited in 2018. Trøndelag county and the neighboring Møre og Romsdal county together form what is known as Central Norway.

Trondheim City in Norway

Trondheim is a city and municipality in Trøndelag county, Norway. It has a population of 193,501, and is the third-most populous municipality in Norway, although the fourth largest urban area. Trondheim lies on the south shore of Trondheim Fjord at the mouth of the River Nidelva. The city is dominated by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research (SINTEF), St. Olavs University Hospital and other technology-oriented institutions.

Norway constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country in Northwestern Europe whose territory comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula; the remote island of Jan Mayen and the archipelago of Svalbard are also part of the Kingdom of Norway. The Antarctic Peter I Island and the sub-Antarctic Bouvet Island are dependent territories and thus not considered part of the kingdom. Norway also lays claim to a section of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land.

Thorfinn and many other bishops of the area disagreed with the sitting King Eric II of Norway regarding a number of issues, including episcopal elections. King Erik received the nickname "Priesthater" from his less than successful relations with the church. [4]

Eric II of Norway Norwegian king

Eric Magnusson was the King of Norway from 1280 until 1299.

There had been an agreement, the Tønsberg Concord (Sættargjerden in Tønsberg) signed in 1277 between King Magnus VI of Norway and Jon Raude, the Archbishop of Nidaros confirming certain privileges of the clergy, the freedom of episcopal elections and similar matters. [5] In 1282, King Eric repudiated this agreement, and a fierce dispute between Church and state ensued. Eventually the King outlawed Archbishop Jon Raude, and his two chief supporters, Bishop Andres of Oslo and Bishop Thorfinn of Hamar. [6] Bishop Thorfinn, after many hardships including shipwreck, made his way to the abbey of Ter Doest (Abdij Ter Doest) at Lissewege, near Bruges, in the Flemish Region of Belgium. Torfinn died there on January 8, 1285 and was buried near the altar of the abbey church. The remains of Torfinn were later reinterred at a convent in Bruges during 1687. [7]

Tønsberg Municipality in Vestfold, Norway

Tønsberg[²tœnsbær(ɡ)](listen) is a city and municipality in Vestfold county, southern Norway, located around 102 kilometres south-southwest of Oslo on the western coast of the Oslofjord near its mouth onto the Skagerrak. The administrative centre of the municipality is the town of Tønsberg. The municipality has a population of 41,239 and covers an area of 107 square kilometres.

A pact, from Latin pactum, is a formal agreement. In international relations, pacts are usually between two or more sovereign states. In domestic politics, pacts are usually between two or more political parties or other organizations.

Magnus VI of Norway King of Norway

Magnus Haakonsson was King of Norway from 1263 to 1280. One of his greatest achievements was the modernisation and nationalisation of the Norwegian law-code, after which he is known as Magnus the Law-mender. He was the first Norwegian monarch known to have used an ordinal number, although originally counting himself as "IV".

Walter de Muda, one of the monks at Ter Doest at the time, wrote a poem in Latin praising the character of Thorfinn. Father Walter remembered Bishop Thorfinn staying in the monastery and the impression he had made of gentle goodness combined with strength. His mild exterior covered a firm will against whatever he esteemed to be evil and ungodly. Father Walter had written the poem about him after his death and hung it up over his tomb. [8]

In literature

St. Thorfinn appears in The Axe, the first volume of Sigrid Undset's The Master of Hestviken . There he is depicted as the kindly and compassionate Bishop of Hamar, who makes great efforts to help the book's young lovers, denied the right to marry by malicious relatives.

Sigrid Undset Norwegian writer

Sigrid Undset was a Norwegian novelist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928.

The Master of Hestviken is a tetralogy about medieval Norway written by Sigrid Undset. It was originally published in Norwegian as two volumes Olav Audunssøn i Hestviken and Olav Audunssøn og Hans Børn, from 1925 to 1927. Hestviken is a fictional mediaeval farm on the East side of the Oslo fjord. The series is set partly during the Civil war era in Norway, in which period the Bagler faction frequently established themselves in the nearby Viken area. It's inspired by the summer cottages located in Hvitsten, near Drobak. In the 1920s, Sigrid Undset resided there for a brief period.

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