Sarpsborg is 1000 years old!

Photo: Thomas Andersen His Majesty cuts the ribbon to officially dedicate the Genesis statue, created by sculptor Finn Eirik Modahl.

Photo: Thomas Andersen
His Majesty cuts the ribbon to officially dedicate the Genesis statue, created by sculptor Finn Eirik Modahl.

Leslee Lane Hoyum
Rockford, Minn.

“Today Sarpsborg is a vibrant city in Østfold,” said His Majesty King Harald V during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Genesis sculpture in Sarpsborg. “The sculptor produced a young Olav as a contemporary young man with great potential and ambitious goals for the future. It suits the occasion well, especially when one has reached a significant age, as is the case with Sarpsborg.

Photo: Thomas Andersen Everyone was afraid, yet fascinated, by the Nordic seafarers who in Viking times raided and traded across wide areas of northern, central, and eastern Europe. For some reason no one seemed to fear these modern-day Vikings.

Photo: Thomas Andersen
Everyone was afraid, yet fascinated, by the Nordic seafarers who in Viking times raided and traded across wide areas of northern, central, and eastern Europe. For some reason no one seemed to fear these modern-day Vikings.

“On a spring day in 1016, King Olav Haraldsson, later St. Olav, sailed up the Glomma River with his Viking ship,” continued His Majesty. “On his way along the river, he spied a promontory with a huge waterfall, Sarpefossen. He saw it as an ideal place to build a castle. He built a 2,133-foot-long and 23-foot-high wall that enclosed the whole area. Inside he plotted out streets and lots so that merchants and craftsmen could settle there.

Photo: Thomas Andersen The pilgrims return to Tune Kirke. A large group of Sarpings followed the path of St. Olav to Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, his final resting place.

Photo: Thomas Andersen
The pilgrims return to Tune Kirke. A large group of Sarpings followed the path of St. Olav to Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, his final resting place.

“King Olav Haraldsson also established a church and a royal residence with a large farm, which he named Borg. The close proximity to the waterfalls gave Sarpsborg its name, ‘The city by the falls,’” King Harald conveyed.

Photo courtesy of Atlier Glyllensten Stahl Of course one must not forget the 100 paintings that comprised the Pensel & Penn exhibit. Local artists using a variety of mediums celebrated Sarpsborg’s history. Here Artist Elisabeth Gyllensten captured the fleeing citizenry. The Nordic Seven-Year War between Sweden and Denmark-Norway brought a demand that Sarpsborg pay a fire tax. When it could not pay, the Swedes burned down the city.

Photo courtesy of Atlier Glyllensten Stahl
Of course one must not forget the 100 paintings that comprised the Pensel & Penn exhibit. Local artists using a variety of mediums celebrated Sarpsborg’s history. Here Artist Elisabeth Gyllensten captured the fleeing citizenry. The Nordic Seven-Year War between Sweden and Denmark-Norway brought a demand that Sarpsborg pay a fire tax. When it could not pay, the Swedes burned down the city.

Thousands of Sarpsborg residents and visitors watched as King Harald cut the ribbon at the dedication of the Genesis sculpture. Thousands more greeted and cheered him on as he visited Sarpsborg’s new Olav’s Hall and attended a very special worship service at the ruins of the St. Nikolas Church at Borgarsyssel Museum. Thereafter, the king took leave, but the festivities continued.

Photo: Thomas Andersen Medieval street performers were found throughout the town and at Hafslund Park. They drew hundreds and hundreds of spectators. Their routines included everything from stilt walking to acrobatics to fire breathing.

Photo: Thomas Andersen
Medieval street performers were found throughout the town and at Hafslund Park. They drew hundreds and hundreds of spectators. Their routines included everything from stilt walking to acrobatics to fire breathing.

It was a week to promote understanding, which included a peace forum and family reunions. A week of culture with art exhibits, street performers, and concerts. It was a week of religious reflection with special worship services in all churches of all faiths, and it celebrated the return of the Sarpsborg pilgrims who followed St. Olav’s path to his resting place in the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. And, of course, history was relived in the Viking village and through lectures that allowed people to not only understand their past but also realize that they are creating a legacy for tomorrow. But, most certainly, at the heart of the celebration were the people of Sarpsborg.

Photo: Thomas Andersen A peace forum was held at the Sarpsborg Church. Sarpsborg, as we all know, was the meeting place for early peace talks between Palestine and Israel. The moderator was Borg Bishop Atle Sommerfeldt and his two panelists were General Secretary of the Norwegian Christian Democratic Party Hilde Frafjord Johnson, who spoke about South Sudan, and Dr. Mitri Raheb, pastor of the ELCA Christmas Church in Bethlehem, Palestine, who has been waiting 50 years for peace in his homeland.

Photo: Thomas Andersen
A peace forum was held at the Sarpsborg Church. Sarpsborg, as we all know, was the meeting place for early peace talks between Palestine and Israel. The moderator was Borg Bishop Atle Sommerfeldt and his two panelists were General Secretary of the Norwegian Christian Democratic Party Hilde Frafjord Johnson, who spoke about South Sudan, and Dr. Mitri Raheb, pastor of the ELCA Christmas Church in Bethlehem, Palestine, who has been waiting 50 years for peace in his homeland.

It has been an honor to tell you about my grandfather Johannes Olsen Lanne’s (John Lane) hometown of Sarpsborg these past few years. There still are events that will celebrate Sarpsborg during 2016, but the week of July 25 was extraordinary. I highly encourage you to put Sarpsborg on your “go to” list for future trips to Norway. Its history is fascinating, it’s one of Norway’s leading industrial cities, and its people are kind and reserved.

Photo: Thomas Andersen Local dance organizations also played a large part in the presentation of Carmina Burana.

Photo: Thomas Andersen
Local dance organizations also played a large part in the presentation of Carmina Burana.

Photo: Thomas Andersen The pièce de résistance was an extraordinary concert featuring Carmina Burana composed by Carl Orff. It is a scenic cantata based on 24 poems from the medieval collection by the same name. The Norwegian youth symphony orchestra and chorus from all of Østfold played. The evening’s mistress of ceremonies was Haddy N’jie, a very popular Norwegian singer, songwriter, and journalist.

Photo: Thomas Andersen
The pièce de résistance was an extraordinary concert featuring Carmina Burana composed by Carl Orff. It is a scenic cantata based on 24 poems from the medieval collection by the same name. The Norwegian youth symphony orchestra and chorus from all of Østfold played. The evening’s mistress of ceremonies was Haddy N’jie, a very popular Norwegian singer, songwriter, and journalist.

I personally want to thank the following people for all the help I received over the years: Mayor Sindre Martinsen-Evje, former mayor Jan Engsmyr, Unni Elisabeth Skaar, Siri Braadland Harborg, Erling Bakken, Morten Nielsen, Henrik Diskerud Meyer, Hilde Øisang, Marry Raadahl, Helge Skånlund, Kai Robert Johansen, Thomas Andersen, The Norwegian American and, most of all, my husband, George Hoyum. For all of them and the people of Sarpsborg, I say, Gratulerer med tusenårsjubileet!

Photo: Thomas Andersen The concert ended with a myriad of fireworks for the more than 5,000 people who attended... rain and all.

Photo: Thomas Andersen
The concert ended with a myriad of fireworks for the more than 5,000 people who attended… rain and all.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 9, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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