[[Image:Olaf_of_Norway.jpg|right|St. Olaf, King of Norway]]
Holy Martyr and Right- Believing King '''Olaf II of Norway''' (sometimes spelled '''Olav''') is also known as '''Olaf Haraldson''' and was a son of Earl Harald Grenske of Norway. During his lifetime he was also called '''Olaf the Fat'''. He was born in 995 A.D., and ruled Norway from 1015 to his death in 1030. His [[feast day]] is [[July 29]].
He should not be confused with his
grandfather Olaf Tryggvason (King Olaf I of Norway).
According to Snorri Sturluson (a 12th and 13th century Icelandic historian), he was
baptized in 998 in Norway, but more probably about 1010 in Rouen, France, by [[Archbishop]] Robert. In his early youth he went as a viking to England, where he took part in many battles and became earnestly interested in Christianity. After many difficulties he was elected King of Norway, and made it his object to extirpate heathenism and make the Christian religion the basis of his kingdom.
He is the great Norwegian legislator for the Church, and like his
ancestor Olaf Tryggvason, made frequent severe attacks on the old faith and customs, demolishing the temples and building Christian churches in their place. He brought many [[bishop]]s and [[priest]]s from England, as King Canute IV later did to Denmark. Some few are known by name (Grimkel, Sigfrid, Rudolf, Bernhard). He seems on the whole to have taken the Anglo-Saxon conditions as a model for the ecclesiastical organization of his kingdom.
But at last the exasperation against him got so strong that the mighty clans rose in rebellion against him and applied to King Canute II of Denmark and England for help. This was willingly given, whereupon Olaf was expelled and Canute elected King of Norway. Olaf fled to Kievan Rus, and during the voyage he stayed some time in Sweden in the province of Nerike where, according to local legend, he baptized many locals.
== St. Olaf's cultus==
Many miraculous occurrences are related in connection with his death and his disinterment a year later, after belief in his sanctity had spread widely. His friends, Bishop Grimkel and Earl Einar Tambeskjelver, laid the corpse in a coffin and set it on the high-altar in the church of St. Clement in Nidaros (now Trondheim). Olaf has since been held as a saint, not only by the people of Norway, whose [[patron saint]] he is, but also by Rome.
His cult spread widely in the Middle Ages, not only in Norway, but also in Denmark, Sweden, and even as far as England; in London, there is on Hart Street a St. Olave's Church, long dedicated to the
canonized King of Norway. In 1856 a fine St. Olave's Church was erected in Christiania, the capital of Norway, where a large [[relic]] of St. Olaf (a donation from the Danish Royal Museum) is preserved and venerated. The arms of Norway are a lion with the battle-axe of St. Olaf in the forepaws.
The Norwegian order of the Knighthood of Saint Olaf was founded in 1847 by Oscar I, king of Sweden and Norway, in memory of this king. He is called ''Rex Perpetuum Norvegiæ'', eternal King of Norway.
An interesting and somewhat bizarre episode
with St. Olaf's relics is recorded regarding St. Olaf's successor, Harald III Haardraade, who was King of Norway 1040-1066 (co-ruler with St. Olaf's son, Magnus the Good, 1040-1047). Thirty-five years after St. Olaf's death, Harald was planning an invasion of northern England in 1066 at the provocation of the exiled Earl Tostig (brother of King Harold II of England). He visited the shrine of St. Olaf in Trondheim, unlocked the door, cut his hair and nails—which were still growing, for St. Olaf's relics were incorrupt—and then relocked the shrine and threw the key into the neighboring River Nid. Harald was eventually defeated and killed by the army led by King Harold II of England, who later that year was defeated by William the Bastard ("the Conqueror") at the Battle of Hastings .
This article makes use of material from:
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11234a.htm 1911 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia]
* [[Wikipedia:Olaf II of Norway]]
Emperors and Kings]]