|Saint Thorlak Thorhallsson|
Statue of St Thorlac at the Roman Catholic Cathedral, Reykjavik, Iceland
|Bishop of Skalholt|
|Died||December 23, 1193
|Roman Catholic Church|
|Canonized||14 January 1984 by Pope John Paul II|
|Feast||December 23; July 20 (translation of relics)|
Saint Thorlak Thorhallsson (Old Norse: Þorlákr Þórhallsson; Icelandic: Þorlákur Þórhallsson; 1133 – December 23, 1193), also spelled Thorlac, is the patron saint of Iceland. Born in Skálholt in southern Iceland, he was bishop of Skalholt from 1178 until his death. Thorlac’s relics were translated to the cathedral of Skálholt in 1198, not long after his successor as bishop, Páll Jónsson, announced at the Althing that vows could be made to Thorlac. His status as a saint did not receive official recognition from the Catholic Church until January 14, 1984, when John Paul II canonized him and declared him the patron saint of Iceland. His life and dozens of his miracles are described in great detail in the Icelandic saga Þorláks saga Helga (Saga of Saint Thorlak), republished in Icelandic on the occasion of John Paul II's visit to Iceland in 1989. It seems likely that Thorlac's original sanctification, promoted by Latin texts on which this was based, 'was arranged in Icelandic ecclesiastical circles, clerics of both dioceses being conspicuous in reports of early miracles'.
Returning to Iceland in 1161, Thorlac founded a monastery of Canons Regular at Þykkvibær after refusing to marry a rich widow. There he devoted himself to a strictly religious life, refusing to marry (many other Icelandic priests were married) and devoting himself to reciting the Our Father, the Creed, and a hymn, as well as fifty Psalms.
Þorláksmessa (St. Thorlac's Day)
Þorláksmessa (Thorlac's mass) is celebrated on the date of his death, December 23.
It is considered the last day of preparations before Christmas. Therefore, on St. Thorlac's Day, the house is cleaned and preparations for the Christmas meal are begun. Most people in Reykjavík go into town in the night to meet others and do the last shopping before Christmas. Fish was usually eaten on Þorláksmessa since December 23 was the last day of the Catholic Christmas fast. In western Iceland, it was customary to eat cured skate on this day; this custom spread to the whole of Iceland. The skate is usually served with boiled or mashed potatoes, accompanied by a shot of Brennivín.
Ásdis Egilsdóttir: The beginnings of local hagiography in Iceland: the lives of Bishops Þorlákr and Jón. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2006.
- Loth, Agnete: Den Gamle jærtegnsbog om biskop Thorlak. Oversat med inledning og efterord af Agnete Loth. Odense: Odense universitetsforlag, 1984. (Danish)
- Oddaverja-Þáttr - The Second Life of Thorlac. Icelandic-English. In: Origines Islandicae - A collection of the more important sagas and other native writings relating to the settlement and early history of Iceland. Edited and translated by Gudbrand Vigfusson and F. York Powel. Volume I. Oxfort at the Clarendon Press, 1905. pp. 567–591.
- Le Dit des Gens d'Oddi. Traduction de Grégory Cattaneo. Paris: Presses universitaires de Paris Sorbonne. En cours de publication.
- Thorlaks saga - Palls saga. Oslo: Aschehoug, 2011. (Thorleif Dahls kulturbibliotek, Bd. 43) ISBN 9788203197840.
- Þorláks saga - the Story of Bishop Thorlac. Icelandic-English. In: Origines Islandicae - A collection of the more important sagas and other native writings relating to the settlement and early history of Iceland. Edited and translated by Gudbrand Vigfusson and F. York Powel. Volume I. Oxfort at the Clarendon Press, 1905. pp. 458–502.
- Gottskálk Jensson: “The lost latin literature of medieval Iceland - the fragments of the Vita sancti Thorlaci and other evidence”. In: Symbolae Osloenses - Norwegian Journal of Greek and Latin Studies Volume 79 (2004), Issue 1, pages 150-170.
- Stories of the Bishops of Iceland. I, The Stories of Thorwald the Far-Farer, and of Bishop Isleif, II, Húngrvaka [the Hunger-Waker], Being Chronicles of the First Five Bishops of Skalholt, III, The Story of Bishop Thorlak the Saint. Translated by Mary C. J. Disney Leith. London, J. Masters, 1895.
- Wolf, Kirsten: “A Translation of the Latin Fragments Containing the Life and Miracles of St Thorlákr along with Collections of Lectiones for Recitation on His Feast-Days”. In: Proceedings of the PMR Conference - Annual Publication of the Patristic. Medieval and Renaissance Conference 14 (1989), pp. 261–276. Villanova (Pennsylvania): Villanova University, Augustinian Historical Institute.
- Susanne Miriam Fahn and Gottskálk Jensson, 'The Forgotten Poem: A Latin Panegyric for Saint Þorlákr in AM 382 4to', Gripla, 21 (2010), 19-60, at p. 19.
- Susanne Miriam Fahn and Gottskálk Jensson, 'The Forgotten Poem: A Latin Panegyric for Saint Þorlákr in AM 382 4to', Gripla, 21 (2010), 19-60, at p. 20.
- Ásdís Egilsdóttir (ed.), Þorláks saga helga. Elsta gerð Þorláks sögu helga ásamt Jarteinabókog efni úr yngri gerðum sögunnar (Reykjavík: Þorlákssjóður, 1989).
- Susanne Miriam Fahn and Gottskálk Jensson, `The Forgotten Poem: A Latin Panegyric for Saint Þorlákr in AM 382 4to', Gripla, 21 (2010), 19-60, at pp. 20-21.
- Saints of December 23: Thorlac Thornalli
- Þorláksmessa - The Day of St. Thorlakur: The Icelandic Saint St. Thorlakur
|Bishop of Skálholt