Martyr and King of Norway (1015-30), b. 995; d. 29 July, 1030. He was a son of King Harald Grenske of Norway. According to Snorre, he was baptized in 998 in Norway, but more probably about 1010 in Rouen, France, by Archbishop Robert. In his early youth he went as a viking to England, where he partook in many battles and became earnestly interested in Christianity. After many difficulties he was elected King of Norway, and made it his object to extirpate heathenism and make the Christian religion the basis of his kingdom. He is the great Norwegian legislator for the Church, and like his ancestor (Olaf Trygvesson), made frequent severe attacks on the old faith and customs, demolishing the temples and building Christian churches in their place. He brought many bishops and priests from England, as King Saint Cnut later did to Denmark. Some few are known by name (Grimkel, Sigfrid, Rudolf, Bernhard). He seems on the whole to have taken the Anglo-Saxon conditions as a model for the ecclesiastical organization of his kingdom. But at last the exasperation against him got so strong that the mighty clans rose in rebellion against him and applied to King Cnut of Denmark and England for help. This was willingly given, whereupon Olaf was expelled and Cnut elected King of Norway. It must be remembered that the resentment against Olaf was due not alone to his Christianity, but also in a high degree to his unflinching struggle against the old constitution of shires and for the unity of Norway. He is thus regarded by the Norwegians of our days as the great champion of national independence, and Catholic and Protestant alike may find in Saint Olaf their great idea.
After two years' exile he returned to Norway with an army and met his rebellious subjects at Stiklestad, where the celebrated battle took place 29 July, 1030. Neither King Cnut nor the Danes took part at that battle. King Olaf fought with great courage, but was mortally wounded and fell on the battlefield, praying " God help me". Many miraculous occurrences are related in connection with his death and his disinterment a year later, after belief in his sanctity had spread widely. His friends, Bishop Grimkel and Earl Einar Tambeskjelver, laid the corpse in a coffin and set it on the high-altar in the church of St. Clement in Nidaros (now Trondhjem ). Olaf has since been held as a saint, not only by the people of Norway, but also by Rome. His cult spread widely in the Middle Ages, not only in Norway, but also in Denmark and Sweden ; even in London, there is on Hart Street a St. Olave's Church, long dedicated to the canonized King of Norway. In 1856 a fine St. Olave's Church was erected in Christiania, the capital of Norway, where a large relic of St. Olaf (a donation from the Danish Royal Museum) is preserved and venerated. The arms of Norway are a lion with the battle-axe of St. Olaf in the forepaws.
Footprints Holy Card
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online