The Chronicle of The Kings of Norway

by Snorri Sturlson | c.1179-1241 | 320,198 words

The "Heimskringla" of Snorri Sturlason is a collection of sagas concerning the various rulers of Norway, from about A.D. 850 to the year A.D. 1177....

Part 259 - Of King Olaf's Miracles

In the sand-hill where King Olaf's body had lain on the ground a beautiful spring of water came up and many human ailments and infirmities were cured by its waters. Things were put in order around it, and the water ever since has been carefully preserved. There was first a chapel built, and an altar consecrated, where the king's body had lain; but now Christ's church stands upon the spot.

Archbishop Eystein had a high altar raised upon the spot where the king's grave had been, when he erected the great temple which now stands there; and it is the same spot on which the altar of the old Christ church had stood.

It is said that Olaf's church stands on the spot on which the empty house had stood in which King Olaf's body had been laid for the night. The place over which the holy remains of King Olaf were carried up from the vessel is now called Olaf's Road, and is now in the middle of the town. The bishop adorned King Olaf's holy remains, and cut his nails and hair; for both grew as if he had still been alive.

So says Sigvat the skald: —

"I lie not, when I say the king
Seemed as alive in every thing:
His nails, his yellow hair still growing,
And round his ruddy cheek still flowing,
As when, to please the Russian queen,
His yellow locks adorned were seen;
Or to the blind he cured he gave
A tress, their precious sight to save."

Thorarin Loftunga also composed a song upon Svein Alfifason, called the "Glelogn Song", in which are these verses: —

"Svein, king of all,
In Olaf's hall
Now sits on high;
And Olaf's eye
Looks down from heaven,
Where it is given
To him to dwell:
Or here in cell,
As heavenly saint,
To heal men's plaint,
May our gold-giver
Live here for ever!

"King Olaf there
To hold a share
On earth prepared,
Nor labour spared
A seat to win
From heaven's great King;
Which he has won
Next God's own Son.

"His holy form,
Untouched by worm,
Lies at this day
Where good men pray,
And nails and hair
Grow fresh and fair;
His cheek is red,
His flesh not dead.

"Around his bier,
Good people hear
The small bells ring
Over the king,
Or great bell toll;
And living soul
Not one can tell
Who tolls the bell.

"Tapers up there,
(Which Christ holds dear,)
By day and night
The altar light:
Olaf did so,
And all men know
In heaven he
From sin sits free.

"And crowds do come,
The deaf and dumb,
Cripple and blind,
Sick of all kind,
Cured to be
On bended knee;
And off the ground
Rise whole and sound.

"To Olaf pray
To eke thy day,
To save thy land
From spoiler's hand.
God's man is he
To deal to thee
Good crops and peace;
Let not prayer cease.

"Book-prayers prevail,
If, nail for nail [1],
Thou tellest on,
Forgetting none."

Thorarin Loftunga was himself with King Svein, and heard these great testimonials of King Olaf's holiness, that people, by the heavenly power, could hear a sound over his holy remains as if bells were ringing, and that candles were lighted of themselves upon the altar as by a heavenly fire.

But when Thorarin says that a multitude of lame, and blind, and other sick, who came to the holy Olaf, went back cured, he means nothing more than that there were a vast number of persons who at the beginning of King Olaf's miraculous working regained their health.

King Olaf's greatest miracles are clearly written down, although they occurred somewhat later.

Footnotes and references:


Before the entrance of the temples or churches were posts called Ondveigis-sulor, with nails called Rigin-naglar — the gods' nails — either for ornament, or, as Schoning suggests, to assist the people in reckoning weeks, months, festivals, and in reckoning or keeping tale of prayers repeated, and to recall them to memory, in the same way as beads are used still by the common people in Catholic countries for the same purpose. — L.

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