During this short trip to Turku, my friend to me to St. Mary’s church. It’s a small country-ish church just outside Turku. There’s a nice view, old gravestones and a nice parsonage.
We started at the church, and the best thing to highlight is the poor man statue.
All this began in 1649 (at that time Finland was under administration of Sweden) when Swedish queen Kristina (1629 – 1689) gave order to make money collection logs. In Europe wars raged around and many soldiers wounded in wars losing foot or arm. When wounded in this way they had to return to their home. These money collection-logs were modified to pauper (poor-man) statues by local artists. They were placed usually beside church doors and on the walls of bell towers. Man built for them small wooden shelter to protect them sun shine, direct rain and snow. In recent years many churches moved them into porches. So, many pauper statues present men missing hand, foot or even ear having models from solders maimed in wars. Man must remember that in the 1700, 1800 and 1900 century people were very poor, but they visited church every Sunday faithfully. I think that these pauper statues were great start for modern help of the poor (social security).
Pauper statues have moneybox in their chest and to put coins into them there is a slot in the chest. In general the Finnish people are honest and this means that there a few robberies against the pauper statues. Robberies have happened, yes indeed. Latest robbery happened in 2013 when the whole pauper statue in Rautio was stolen. It was found after winter in a ditch. The lock and money box were missing, but the statue was in good condition. Also the pauper of Alavieska has been robbed many times. In addition to these robberies, there have been some minor mischiefs like removing hands. Many paupers have beside them a written small phrase. Although the text might slightly differ from others, the main idea is: “he who has mercy on the poor, lends to the Lord”.
BTW, it’s a great blog if you are interested in learning more about Finland, especially outside of Helsinki.
At any rate, we continued over to the parsonage.