Gardar, Greenland

Gardar, Greenland

Gardar, Greenland

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Garðar was the seat of the bishop in the Norse settlements in Greenland.

Diocese of Garðar

In the sagas it is told that Sokki Þórisson, a wealthy farmer of the Brattahlíð area launched the idea of a separate bishop for Greenland in the early 12th century. He got the approval of the Norwegian King. Most of the clergy would come from Norway. The first bishop of Garðar, Arnaldur, was ordained by the Archbishop of Lund in 1124. He arrived in Greenland in 1126. In the same year he started with the construction of the cathedral, devoted to St. Nicholas, patron saint of sailors.

The diocese was first assigned to the Archbishopric of Bremen. The diocese of Garðar was subject to the Archbishop of Lund from 1126–1152. In 1152 the diocese of Greenland, as well as those of Iceland, the Isle of Man, the Orkney Islands, the Faroe Islands became subject to the newly-established Archdiocese of Nidaros.

Bishop Arnaldur returned to Norway in 1150 and became bishop of Hamar in 1152. His successor was Jón Knútur, who served from 1153–1186. The third bishop was Jón Árnason (nicknamed Smyrill), who took office in 1189. In 1202–1203 he went on a pilgrimage to Rome and met the Pope. He died in Garðar in 1209 and was buried there, most likely in the Northern Chapel of the cathedral.

The next bishop, Þór Helgi, arrived in Greenland in 1212 and was bishop until his death in 1230. In 1234 Nikulás was ordained,...
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