About This Photo
The Black Church at Búðir is a must see location in Iceland’s Snæfellsnes peninsula. I was able to capture it against a moody sky in April 2018. Here’s a bit of information about it’s inspiring history as I was able to cobble it together from various sources.
In 1703, Bendt Lauridsen, a Swedish-born merchant, built the first church at Búðir with the blessing of the Bishop of Iceland, Jón Þorkelsson Vídalín. The tale goes that they couldn’t settle on a location on which to build the first church, so a senior woman from the village offered to take three arrows, mark one of them, spin around until she was dizzy and faint, then shoot each of the three arrows. They built the church where the marked arrow landed – in a large hollow in the lava field filled with sand.
In 1816, the parish at Búðir was abolished. In 1832 the church building was used as a warehouse and shortly after that it was torn down. According to legend, Steinunn Sveinsdóttir, a merchant’s widow and one of the ladies of the parish, had a dream in which Bendt Lauridsen himself came to her and requested that she rebuild the church. She immediately began the fight to rebuild the church, but the national church rejected her request. Steinunn was not pleased with this decision and appealed directly to the king, who authorized its construction. In 1848 the present church was raised.
Steinunn was a persevering and resourceful woman that came out triumphant over the Church Council, and she sealed her victory over them with a rather vexing inscription on the main door: “The church is raised with no subsidy from the spiritual fathers, by Steinunn Sveinsdóttir”.
In memory of Steinunn’s achievement, Steinunn Sveinsdóttir, this noble woman, is buried in the churchyard in Búðir.
Between 1984 and 1986, the church was reconstructed and consecrated in 1987. The reconstruction was based on measurements and detailed descriptions found in clerical documents from 1850, and on photographs from the turn of the century. Some parts of the original church were also intact and original colors were found beneath later layers of paint. Hörður Ágústsson, an artist and house-archeologist, supervised the work.
Among the valuable possessions of the church are a bell from 1672, an altarpiece from 1750, and old silver chalice, two messing candlesticks from 1767, and a door ring from 1703. The church is protected and one of the oldest wooden churches in Iceland.
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