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Consecration Crosses in Finnish Churches

T here are quite a few churches in Finland that stem from the 12th to 14th centuries. I happened to visit two of those last summer, namely the Sastamala Church in Karkku, Häme, and the Naantali Church. In Naantali I was just out with the kids to visit the Moomin World, but the Church is too well placed to miss while greeting the plucky people. What really caught my eye was the image of a cross shown below:

The consecration cross at Naantali Church

A s you see, it resembles the cross of the Order pretty damn much. Even the face on the upper cross, just as on that in Templecombe, England.There are eight such consecration crosses in the church, all some 4 meters (12 feet) up on the wall, four on each end of the church. The ones in the picture are the best preserved. I took four pictures, trying to capture the detail in the crosses, but the picture above is the best I could have without artificial lighting.

T he guide in the church was of the opinion that the crosses are Hospitaller crosses. When I pointed out to her that the Hospitaller cross is quite different, she resisted the introduction of new ideas to the point of running out of the church. I guess that after having told people for forty years that the crosses come from Malta, she still explains to visitors that the crosses are somehow related to the Hospitallers. Oh well, I tried anyhow.

T he second event I ran across the cross was at the Sastamala Gregoriana music festival, which I was able to attend thanks to the hospitality of my mother-in-law who willingly took to shepherding the boys. The Sastamala Church in Karkku, some 70 kms out of Tampere, Finland, is a early 14th century church erected on the remains of a late 13th century wooden chapel, dedicated to St Luke. The church is dedicated to St Mary. It has no floor, and its benches must be among the most painful in the world, with the negative angle of the backrest. (Fortunately there are some benches without a backrest). The Gregorian music festival really has a great venue there, as it is very easy to get in the proper mood for such music in that ancient church. Anyway, during renovation in 1960, parts of the church's consecration cross were found. Fashioned out of chalk stone (I suppose), it is now hanging restored on the church wall. It bears a striking resemblance to the one in Naantali, and I am currently trying to figure out why the crosses are so much like the Templar cross. Any info is of course greatly appreciated - donate here

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