Hallvard Vebjørnsson

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Saint Hallvard
Hallvard Vebjørnsson
Oslo komm.png
Saint Hallvard is depicted in the seal of the city of Oslo, holding the millstone and arrows used to kill him, with the woman he defended at his feet
Born c. 1020
Lier
Died 1043
Honored in
Roman Catholic Church Orthodox Church
Feast May 15
Patronage patron saint of Oslo

Hallvard Vebjørnsson (Hallvard Den Hellige) (c. 1020 – 1043), commonly referred to as Saint Hallvard (Sankt Hallvard), is the patron saint of Oslo. He is considered a martyr because of his defence of an innocent thrall woman.[1]

Background[edit]

Little is known of his life, and all traditional stories relate to his death near Drammen. The exact year of birth and place of his birth is unknown. According to tradition, his father was the farmer Vebjørn. His parents were wealthy farmers and owned the farm Husaby in Lier. His mother, Torny Gudbrandsdatter, was reportedly related to St. Olaf, the patron saint of Norway. It is said that she was the daughter of Gudbrand Kula from Oppland, who was also the father of Åsta Gudbrandsdatter, St. Olav's mother.

St Hallvard. Nidaros Cathedral

Death[edit]

Hallvard defended a pregnant woman, most likely a thrall, who had been given sanctuary on his ship from three men accusing her of theft. Hallvard, together with the woman, were killed by arrows from the men. The woman was buried on the beach. Hallvard, however, was bound with a millstone around his neck, and the men attempted to drown his body in Drammensfjord but it refused to sink and as a result their crimes were discovered.

Veneration[edit]

St. Hallvard was celebrated as a local saint in Iceland, parts of Sweden, and especially in the southeastern region of Norway – throughout the Middle Ages from about mid-11th century, with a peak in the early 13th century. His religious feast day was 15 May.

St. Hallvard's Cathedral (Hallvardskatedralen), a cathedral dedicated to his name was finished in Oslo in 1130, where his relics were stored. The Cathedral was built on the hill by the Old Town market square in Oslo (intersection of Bispegata – Oslo gate)[2] during the early 12th century, and was in use as a church until about 1655. Besides being the bishop's seat and religious center in more than 500 years, the cathedral was the coronation church, the royal wedding church and the royal burial chapel. It fell into disrepair in the 17th century and is today a ruin.

The connection of St. Hallvard to the city of Oslo was fortified by the fact that his image was recorded in the city's seal already on the 14th century. The municipality's highest honor, the St. Hallvard Medal (St. Hallvard-medaljen), was named after him in 1950.

References[edit]

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