Hallgrímur Pétursson

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Illustration of Hallgrímur Pétursson in the stained glass window above the entrance to the church

Hallgrímur Pétursson, Iceland’s most renowned religious poet, was born in Gröf in Höfðaströnd in the year 1614. As a child he moved with his father to the Bishop’s residence at Hólar in Hjaltadalur, where he received some education. He was apprenticed as a blacksmith in Copenhagen but abandoned that and studied in the Vor Frue Skole from 1632 to 1637.

When a group of Icelanders, who had been abducted from Iceland and imprisoned by Algerian pirates, had their freedom purchased and stopped in Copenhagen on their way home, Hallgrímur was asked to re-educate and review the Christian values and religion with the group. The group had stayed amongst Muslims for many years. Among those in the group was Guðríður Símonardóttir, with whom Hallgrímur fell in love.

Hallgrímur and Guðríður returned home to Iceland and Hallgrímur was appointed as minister at Hvalsnes and later in Saurbær in Hvalfjarðarströnd. He passed away in 1674.

Reverend Hallgrímur is most known for his Hymns of the Passion, fifty hymns which are a reflection on the passion of Christ. Prayers verses from the hymns have been with the Icelandic nation for centuries and they are read yearly in the Icelandic national radio during Lent.

The Hymns of the Passion have been translated into many languages, including Danish, Norwegian, English, German, Dutch, Hungarian, Italian and a selection into Chinese.