Documenting Iceland

Hvalsneskirkja Church │ Iceland Landscape winter Photo from air

by: Rafn Sig,-

The church at Hvalsnes on the western part of the Reykjanes Peninsula is somewhat revered by the Christian Icelanders. The longest serving priest in the Hvalsnes parish was Hallgrímur Pétursson, a much-loved hymn writer whose life has become a legend. Even though he served the parish long before the present church was built, the Icelanders tend to look on the church site as a kind of a holy place.

This humble, still impressive church was built from carved basaltic stones from the local area during 1886 and 1887. It was consecrated on Christmas Day 1887. The proprietor of the Hvalsnes estate that was also the project manager financed the building. The wood for the interior was driftwood, collected from the shores nearby.

One of the most precious artefacts in the church is a gravestone with the name of Steinunn Hallgrímsdóttir, who died at the age of four in 1649. Her father, the Reverend Hallgrímur Pétursson, made it. The gravestone was lost for ages but was discovered in 1964. It had been used as part of a walkway leading to the church.

Earlier, during the Catholic era in Iceland the Hvalsnes churches were dedicated to the Holy Mother, St. King Olaf, St. Catharine and all other saints.


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