Another interesting thing to observe when you walk through a medieval cathedral, and in this case the Turku cathedral, is that death surrounds you and you can’t avoid it. This is a good reminder and something that I think is unique to the church. I would argue that for most of humanity’s existence, we have come face-to-face with death and had to deal with it. And the church has been a part of that, often offering comfort and hope to those left behind.
Western society today though seems to taking a different approach – trying to ignore or avoid death. We don’t even like to use the word death/dead. Instead we use words like – “fell asleep,” “passed away,” etc. They take the pain out of death. I’m sure I’m just as guilty as most everyone else in this regard.
But when you step into a medieval cathedral, you can’t help but come face to face with death again and are reminded that death will come to each of us. But death does not have the final word.
Enough commentary – now onto the pictures.
First stop – the relics of Bishop Hemming.
Bishop Hemming was an interesting guy, to say the least. Besides Agricola, he was probably the most productive Bishop in Finnish history. He also served as bishop for many, many years. He served as bishop in the 14th century. There was a move started right around the Reformation to have him named a saint. That died out though when the country became Lutheran. However, some of Hemming resides in Turku Cathedral.
So, what does this have to do with death, you ask. Well, my friend – nothing directly. However, it is a good reminder that there are different ways to die. The sacristy is the only original part of the cathedral. The rest of the cathedral burned in the great fire in the 1800’s. The sacristy was saved by the huge, thick door leading to the sacristy.
More royalty and tombs
Guess what – they still died, just like everyone else. You can see their tombs. Royalty may have a great deal of earthly power, but in the end, royalty is no different from anyone else – they eat, sleep, have sex, relieve themselves, get dressed, etc. They just happened to be fortunate enough to be born in the right family. Think about that for a minute – it’s crazy and it makes no sense. And yet, so many people over time have fallen in line with this. Come to think of it, we still have things like this today.
Ok, here’s the really fun picture. Who’s the dude laying there? I don’t know his name, but I can tell you that he is not Finnish. No, not Swedish either. No not Scandinavian either. He’s a Scottish warlord. What is he doing in Finland? He helped the king with some war in the past and was rewarded with land in Finland and lived out his life here. Not a bad deal actually – Finland is gorgeous.
Up next – some interesting Finnish church/history things that you may not have known about before.