Ancient Diocese of the Faroe Islands

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The former Catholic Diocese of the Faroe Islands existed from the 11th century to the Protestant Reformation. The Faroe Islands are now included in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Copenhagen.

History[edit]

Ruins of Magnus Cathedral

As recorded in the Færeyinga Saga, Sigmundur Brestisson came to the Faroes and converted the people to Christianity more or less one by one. He was eventually attacked at his home by his first (forced) convert, Tróndur í Gøtu, swam to another island to escape, and was finally killed by a farmer for his gold jewelry.

There is some confusion as to when the first bishop for the islands was consecrated, as Adam of Bremen notes that a self-proclaimed bishop of Helgoland was referred to in Latin as the bishop of "Farria."

The bishops of the Faroe Islands were usually chosen from the canons of the Diocese of Bergen and were originally suffragans of the Archdiocese of Hamburg-Bremen. The diocese was granted to Lund in 1104 and then Nidaros after 1152. The see was based at Kirkjubøur, which legend holds was given to Bishop Orm by Gæsa Sigursdottir as a penance for her having eaten meat during Lent. Some of the bishops are known to have kept mistresses, and it was reported that clergy in the Faroes would on occasion demand prima nocte rights.

Amund Olafson was the last Roman Catholic bishop of the islands and was forced to yield his see and title to the Lutheran superintendent Jens Riber. Later, only "provosts" were elected. The Catholic clergy were unable to resist the advance of Lutheranism. By the end of 16th century, the Catholic faith had disappeared.

In the Catholic epa, at least, no little attention paid to the construction and adornment of churches, as may be seen from the ruins of the unfinished Magnus Cathedral of Kirkjubøur. The thick basaltic walls broken by high, massive windows are evidence that the original builders meant to erect a Gothic church. It remained unfinished.

List of the bishops of the Faroe Islands[edit]

  1. 1047-1067 - Bernhard Sakseren, missionary bishop
  2. Late 11th century - Ryngerus, missionary bishop
  3. c. 1100-1137 - Gudmund
  4. 1138-? - Orm, acquired Kirkjubøur
  5.  ?-1157 - Matthew I or Martin I
  6. 1158-1162 - vacant
  7. 1162-1174 - Roe, taught Sverre Sigurdsson, king of Norway after 1184
  8.  ?-1212 - Sven
  9. (1213)-1214 - Olaf
  10. 1215 - vacant
  11. 1216-(1237) - Serquirus or Sverker
  12.  ?-1243 - Bergsven
  13. c. 1245 - Nicholas, doubtful
  14. 1246-1257 - Peter
  15. 1258-1260/61 - vacant
  16. 1261/62-1268 - Gaute
  17. 1269-1308 - Erlandr, expanded church holdings throughout the islands
  18. 1309-1312 - vacant
  19. (1313)-1316 - Lodin of Borgund
  20. 1317-1319 - vacant
  21. 1320-? - Signar
  22.  ? - Gevard
  23. 1343-1348 - Håvard
  24. (1349) - vacant
  25. (1350)-1359 - Arne I
  26. 1359-1369 - Arne II Svæla
  27.  ? - Andrew, elected, but likely unconsecrated
  28.  ? - Arnold, doubtful
  29. (1381) - Richard
  30. 1385-? - William Northbrigg
  31. (?) - Vigbold or Vigbald
  32. 1391 - Philip Gudbrandsson of Nidaros, elected, but likely unconsecrated
  33. (1392) - Halgier, likely unconsecrated
  34. 1408-(1430) - Jon I the German
  35. 1432-1434 - Severinus, also bishop of Tranquilia
  36. (1434) - Jon II the Dominican
  37. 1434-(?) - Jon III the Chief
  38. (1441/42-1451) - Hemming
  39. (1452–1453) - vacant
  40. (1453-?) - Jon IV
  41.  ? - Matthew II or Martin II
  42.  ? - Hilary, questionable
  43. (?)-(1532) - Chilianus
  44. (1532–1538) - Ámundur Ólavsson (Amund), last Catholic bishop, ordered by Christian III to leave his mistress
  45. 1540-1556 - Jens Riber, Lutheran, last bishop

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • G.V.C. Young: From the Vikings to the Reformation. A Chronicle of the Faroe Islands up to 1538. Isle of Man: Shearwater Press, 1979.
Attribution