Centenary of the Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe

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St Hallvard Parish in Oslo

St Hallvard mission parish was founded by Archbishop Gabriel of Comana in January 2012. Moss, Fredrikstad and Trysil towns in southwest and north of Oslo were the main focus of the mission for the first years. Fr.Olav and wife Mari, who is the parish cantor, drove around with a trailer full of equipment to hold a service, with the children in the back seat. It was not always as popular with the youngest to be pulled out of bed on Sunday morning for a two-hour drive. But the children made a great effort to set up the church, as an altar servant and church host.

In 2015 the parish moved to Oslo and rented a room in a local protestant mission house. After a few years a small chapel was built on the priest property. The chapel was a useful tool for the work for some years, but 30m2 was far too little for our growing work. Last year we were able to rent a large mission house for 10 years with the possibility of purchase. We are now made ordinary parish by metropolitan Jean.

In 2019 the parish was transferred to the local Greek metropolis under the metropolitan Cleopas in Stockholm, but sought to return to the metropolitan Jean after one year. It is important for the parish to belong to a diocese with a Western European identity. The parish use entirely Norwegian-language, the only parish in Norway together with the Virgin Mary Annunciation parish in Bergen, also under Paris.

Fr.Olav has been the parish priest all these years. He was a priest in the Church of Norway (Protestant) for 13 years, graduated Candidatus in Theology and master in medieval art history from the University of Oslo. He was ordained by Archbishop Gabriel in Selje in 2008 where the first saint of Norway, Saint Sunniva, became a martyr in year 995 and Norway's first diocese was established. Fr Olav served as 2.priest in St Nikolai parish for 3.5 years. Holy Hallvard parish is a small but active parish of 40 people. Our new church building makes it possible to receive more applicants and continue to grow. The church has a simple portable iconostasis that has been transported around in the priest's car for services and bears the mark of it. The first thing the church will now do is raise money for a new iconostasis and we hope that we can have one ready for the parish 10 year anniversary in 2022. We have established contact with a icon painter who will take on the task. The main task of the Holy Hallvard parish is to missionize among Norwegians. There are several orthodox parishes in Oslo that are ethnically orthodox. People in norway need christian orthodox faith in their own language.

There are about 40,000 Orthodox believers in Norway and it is the fastest growing church. It is mainly believers from orthodox countries, but also Norwegians have opened their eyes to the orthodox faith. In Oslo, there are about 15,000 Eastern Orthodox plus a few thousand Oriental Orthodox. As a small congregation, St Hallvard parish is completely dependent on good and close contact with the other parishes, and is easily affected by difficulties that now prevail in the Orthodox church family.

Norway has four Orthodox saints. The first was Saint Sunniva (995), an Irish princess who suffered martyrdom in Selja, western Norway; Saint Olav (1030) Norway's eternal king and patron saint who was shrined in the cathedral in Trondheim; Saint Hallvard (1043), the saint of eastern Norway and patron saint of Oslo, who helped a woman and her unborn child with his life and Saint Trifon (1583) the Skolt Sami apostle in northern Norway and Russia.

The former Archbishop Gabriel visited all four Norwegian holy sites through his many visits to Norway. We have also had the pleasure of having Metropolitan Jean visit Norway.

In the Middle Ages, Norway received Christian influence both from Europe, especially from the British Isles and from Russia. Saint Olav brought Anglo-Saxon bishops to Christianize Norway and he was baptized in Rouen. Several Norwegian medieval kings grew up or lived for many years in Russia and several married Russian princesses and brought them to Norway and with them Orthodox priests. The Norwegian people have always had a close relationship both to the east and west to this day.