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Thursday, 22 September 2011

New Bishop of Skálholt

Bishop Kristján talks to one of his priests. In the background, his Cathedral
On Sunday 18 September, Kristján Valur Ingólfsson was consecrated Bishop of Skálholt, Iceland. Skálholt is the site of the first Icelandic bishopric, established in 1056 by Ísleifur Gissurarson, a priest from a noble family in the area. Ísleifur reportedly travelled with a polar bear as a gift for the Holy Roman Emperor, then on to Rome to have his nomination as bishop approved, and then to Bremen to be consecrated by the Archbishop. Besides his Cathedral, he also built the first school in Iceland in Skálholt. In the 19th century, the Danish authorities (Denmark ruled Iceland at that time) moved the seat of the diocesan bishop to Reykjavik and the ancient sees of Skálholt and Holar became suffragan sees.

Bishop Kristján formerly taught theology at the university and was the rector of the Church at Thingvellir, the site of the founding of the ancient Icelandic parliament in 930. He is also a liturgical scholar and composer of hymns.

I was privileged to be one of the co-consecrators at the service at which the Bishop of Iceland, Karl Sigurbörnsson, presided. Other bishops came from the Faroe Islands, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, along with the other suffragan bishop in Iceland, Jón Baldvinsson of Holar.

It was also good during my visit to have some time with the priest who serves our English congregation in Reykjavik, the Revd Bjarni Thor Bjarnason. Attendance at the Church of England services which are held on the last Sunday of the month at the Hallgrímskirkja, range between 40 and 60. There are larger numbers at the high feasts.

Bishop Kristján and Bishop Ragnar Persenius (Uppsala)

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