Hallvard of Norway

From OrthodoxWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Hallvard Vebjørnsson (Hallvard Den Hellige) (c. 1020–1043), commonly referred to as Saint Hallvard, is the patron saint of Oslo, Norway. He is considered a martyr because of his defence of an innocent woman.


Little is known of his life, and all traditional stories relate to his death near Drammen. The exact year of birth and place of his birth is unknown. According to tradition, his father was the farmer Vebjørn. His parents were wealthy farmers and owned the farm Husaby in Lier. His mother was Torny Gudbrandsdatter. His mother was reportedly related to St. Olav, the patron saint of Norway. It is said that his mother was the daughter of Gudbrand Kula from Oppland, who was also the father of Åsta Gudbrandsdatter, St. Olav's mother.

Hallvard defended a pregnant woman, most likely a slave, who had been given sanctuary on his ship from three men accusing her of theft. Hallvard, together with the woman, were killed by arrows from the men. The woman was buried on the beach. Hallvard, however, was bound with a millstone around his neck, and the men attempted to drown his body in Drammensfjord but it refused to sink and as a result their crimes were discovered.


St. Hallvard was celebrated as a local saint in Norway - and especially in the eastern region - throughout the Middle Ages from about mid-11th century, with a peak in the early 13th century. His religious feast day was 15 May. Hallvard has been revered as a martyr for his defence of an innocent person since medieval times.

Hallvard's Cathedral (Hallvardskatedralen), a cathedral dedicated to his name was finished in Oslo in 1130, where his relics were stored. The Cathedral was built on the hill by the Old Town market square in Oslo (intersection of Bispegata - Oslo gate) during the early 12th century, and was in use as a church until about 1655. Besides being the bishop's seat and religious center in more than 500 years, the cathedral was the coronation church, the royal wedding church and the royal burial chapel. It fell into disrepair in the 17th century and is today a ruin.

The connection of St. Hallvard to the city of Oslo was fortified by the fact that his image was recorded in the city's seal already on the 14th century. The municipality's highest honor, the St. Hallvard Medal (St. Hallvard-medaljen), was named after him in 1950.


This article makes use of material from: