Monday, May 21, 2012

Hallgrímskirkja

During his lunch break on Saturday, Rob came up and met me to see this church. It is the largest church in Iceland and is Lutheran. It's named after Hallgrímur Pétursson, who is and Icelandic poet known for writing hymns intended for Lent.
The church was begun in 1938 and not finished until 1986, so it is still in its [relative] infancy. It is supposed to look like the lava flows of the island. Out front here is a statue of Leif Erikson, a gift of the US on the 1000th anniversary of the Icelandic parliament (hopefully we'll get to go out and see the site where they used to hold it).
Leif, actual discoverer of Vinland, or the United States. 
The organ. 
Check out how weird it is to have clear windows in here! Rob's theory is that they need every bit of light inside they can get.
I thought these pews were so cool -- they flip back and forth so that you can face then front or the back to see the sermon or the choir. Then I realized that it would take our kids less than five minutes to see the potential to capture each other and try to saw their siblings in half with these seats. Also, too much crayon-and-cheerio-dropping space -- the poor Knell family would be forever getting smacked with our snacks.
So my maternal grandmother's great grandparents came from Iceland. This trip was good for me to tease out the Icelandic strands of my personality. The first thing that struck me was that one reason they built this church was because they needed a radio antenna for the national radio service they were building (this is why the tower in front was finished long before the rest). Second, back in 1000AD at the Icelandic parliament (really, a big legislative campout), the speaker, named Thorgeir of Ljosavatn who was a heathen, convinced the entire parliament that they needed to convert to Christianity. His soundbite was "If the law is torn asunder, so shall the peace be". The Icelandic people followed his lead and they claim that it is the only peaceful adoption of Christianity of its kind.
Both of these tidbits seem so familiar, so reasonable, so pragmatic, so Icelandic to me. 
We asked to go up to the choir loft and see the only stained glass window. When we got there we found this five-foot-tall model of the Hallgrimskirkja made out of Legos. Yes, here's a photo for our boys, the Lego fiends.
It was really a piece of fine workmanship. Something to aspire to, boys!
Here is a teeny bit of the window. I included this because I've also seen pictures like this of books -- eyes peeking out of clouds and grass and hills. The Icelanders have long believed in The Hidden People who inhabit certain rocks and places. Rob and I were going to stay in an apartment near a known hidden-person-inhabited rock; when they built the road down the hill, they were unable to build close to the rock and had to resurvey the road further away from it because the hidden person kept wreaking havoc on the construction. Perhaps my father can confirm these sorts of construction occurences in Iceland. Perhaps they have a Hidden Person Change Order clause in the contracts.
The more conventional and religious part of the window.
And an indigenous demon of some sort.
We went up to the bell tower to see what we could see. There are three bells, named for Hallgrim, his wife and their daughter. I guess I knew that we were in the bell tower, but when the clock struck one right above my head, I thought my eardrums were going to burst! This shows some of the colorful houses I was talking about before.
And here is Lake Tjornin from above. We've had some really clear, sunny days so far. I hope our luck holds a little longer!


1 comment:

Nedra said...

That church is incredible. It is the big brother to the one in Copenhagen that Karen took us to. Same architectural style and time period.