Erik Gnupsson

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Erik Gnupsson or Eiríkr Gnúpsson, also known as Henricus (late 11th to early 12th centuries), was born in Iceland. He became a clergyman and later was appointed the Bishop of Greenland, residing at Garðar. [1] He has been considered as the first bishop of America. He was appointed during the papacy of Pope Paschal II (1099–1118), nearly four centuries before Columbus' first voyage across the Atlantic. Gnupsson was given the province of Greenland and Vinland, the latter believed to refer to what is now Newfoundland.[2]

Erik was active in the conversion of the natives of Greenland, and was the first bishop that exercised jurisdiction in America. As soon as the Norwegians under Thorwald began to form settlements in Vinland, Erik followed his countrymen from Greenland to the newly discovered continent. Here he labored among the natives for several years.

He returned to Norway in 1120, gave an account of the progress of religion in Vinland and Greenland, and advised the establishment of a bishopric in the new colonies. The bishop of Scandinavia erected the new see of Garðar in Greenland, and recommended Erik as bishop. He was consecrated at Lund, in Denmark, in 1121, by Archbishop Adzar, and sailed for Garðar with a body of missionaries, but, after a short stay, visited the new colony in Vinland. He later resigned as bishop so he might work as a simple missionary.[3]


  1. ^ Richard H. Clarke (1872): "Lives of the deceased bishops of the Catholic Church of the United States", vol.1, s. 16. 31 December 2014.
  2. ^ Historical Records and Studies, volume 12 (1918)
  3. ^ Sadlier, W.H. (1879). "Eric, Bishop of Garda". Sadlier's excelsior studies in the history of the United States for schools. p. 23.