Saint Thorlac was born in the south of Iceland in 1133. His parents were quite poor. They lost their farm and the family broke up while he was still a boy. Thorlac had two sisters. Before he was 20 Thorlac became a priest. For a few years he served as a parish priest and is said to have been very conscious of his duties. He managed to save some money in order to study abroad. He was 6 years in Paris, France and then some time in Lincoln, England.
When he returned to Iceland he spent some time at Kirkjubaer in the south-east of Iceland. He supported his mother and sisters. He loved kirkjubaer very much and later as bishop, he established the first nunnery in Iceland at this place.
When Thorlac had spent 6 years at Kirkjubaer, the first Augustinian Canonry in Iceland was founded at Thykkvibaer. Thorlac became the first Abbot. He seems to have regulated the Augustinian Rule in Iceland.
Some years later Thorlac was elected Bishop of Skálholt. He was consecrated bishop in Norway on the 2nd July 1178. He was Bishop of Skálholt for 15 years, until his death in 1193, aged 60.
Thorlac worked hard to reform the Nation and to strengthen the Church. This proved to be a tremendous undertaking. Although not always successful, he did pave the way for future improvements.
Thorlac lived a holy life and after his death hundreds of miracles were attributed to his intercession. He was canonized locally in 1198 and on the 14th of January 1984, the Holy Father, John Paul II, declared Thorlac to be the Patron Saint of Iceland. Thorlac has 2 feast days, 20th July and 23rd December.
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By Justin Soutar
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