Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Lost Diocese of Garðar

Mark in Spokane informs us that "Norse settlements in Greenland were remarkably advanced, and were developed enough that there was a regular Catholic bishopric established on the island in the village of Gardar in 1124" — Greenland's Viking settlements destroyed by little ice age.

The Catholic Encyclopedia's page on Pre-Columbian Discovery of America is informative, as are Catholic-Hierarchy's pages on the Diocese of Gardar and Bishop Johannes Erler. And here's an in-depth academic article by Louis Rey — The Evangelization of the Arctic in the Middle Ages: Gardar, the "Diocese of Ice".

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Blogger Steve Hayes said...

Very interesting. One tends to think of them all as a bunch of bourgeois Lutherans such as Kierkegaard railed against, but back then, of course, they weren't.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Nope, and the zeal of many of the Norse Catholics was impressive. Their ability to evangelize their cultures -- which were as deeply and profoundly pagan as the Greeks and the Romans -- is something that I don't think has been fully explained by historians, either. As Tolkien noted, Norse mythology is just as much a vehicle for "true myth" as Greco-Roman mythology is. Beowulf, for example (which although Anglo-Saxon is set in Scandinavia) fuses both Norse mythology and Christian theology into an overarching epic poem. Tolkien saw that epic as an act of evangelization, a pagan tale written down by a Christian in a way as to make the Norse story part of the Christian patrimony.

12:01 AM  

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