King Harald V helps Sarpsborg celebrate 1,000 years

Photo: Jørgen Gomnæs / The Royal Court  His Majesty King Harald V of Norway.

Photo: Jørgen Gomnæs / The Royal Court
His Majesty King Harald V of Norway.

Leslee Lane Hoyum
Rockford, Minn.

His Majesty King Harald V has accepted Sarpsborg’s invitation to participate in its millennium celebration on July 29. It is a great honor for Sarpsborg to welcome His Majesty and it also is fitting since the city was founded by Viking King Olav II Haraldsson 1,000 years ago.

Although the king’s program is not yet confirmed, among his stops is a special anniversary worship service amid the medieval St. Nicholas Church ruins at Borgarsyssel Museum. The museum was named after Borgarsysla, the Norse name of Østfold County. Participating in the service are Bishop Atle Sommerfeldt, Diocese of Borg; Pastor Mitri Raheb, Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem; and Bishop Munib A. Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church Bishop of Palestine and Jordan. Bethlehem is one of Sarpsborg’s sister cities. Music will be provided by the Norwegian Youth Symphony Orchestra and Tusenårskoret (Thousand Year Choir), a choir composed of children, adolescents, and adults from around Sarpsborg.

While the king is at Borgarsyssel, he will assist with the dedication and opening of Olav’s Hall, the new information and communication building. It will make public the new Olav column, a copy of the original housed at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Sculpted 80 years after St. Olav’s death, it is considered the earliest depiction of him.

His Majesty will also witness the unveiling of the city’s official anniversary sculpture, “Genesis,” which shows artist Finn Eirik Modahl’s conception of a young King Olav II Haraldsson, later known as St. Olav. The ceremony will be held at the newly renovated St. Marie Place on the city’s east side.

The evening will end in the picturesque surroundings of Hafslund Park, which is adjacent to Hafslund Manor, one of the most beautiful in Norway. The Norwegian Youth Symphony Orchestra and singers from all over Østfold will present an outdoor concert and perform Carl Orff’s 1936 Carmina Burana. It is based upon 24 poems from the medieval collection of the same name. His composition quickly became popular and it is a staple in classical repertoires. The opening and closing movement, O Fortuna, has been used in numerous films.

More than 100 events commemorating the millennium have taken place in Sarpsborg this year. The grand event takes place the weekend of July 29 through 31 coinciding with Olsok, the traditional commemoration of St. Olav’s death in 1030 at the Battle of Stiklestad.

The city extends its wholehearted “velkommen” to you as it celebrates its Olavarv—Olav heritage. For more info, go to:

This article is a part of Bestefars hjørne, a feature column by Leslee Lane Hoyum.

This article originally appeared in the June 17, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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