Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Olaf, A Viking Saint ... well, I guess ...

Last year I took a DNA test to find out my ancestry. I figured Irish would come out on top, but then I thought that Scottish would somehow come out second as my mother was from Scotland (though I suspected she had Irish roots). I then thought that given the stories of my paternal grandmother's roots - Pennsylvania Dutch - some German would be in the mix.

I got a surprise.

Irish did finish first. But second was Scandinavian - or, given the history of Ireland and Scotland, Viking.

Scottish/Great Britain came in third. And fourth was Iberian Peninsula??? Spanish? (From the wreck of the Armada - or from merchants who set up shop in Ireland?) Then came Western Europe (the German).

The official breakdown was:

Ireland - 56 %
Scandinavia - 16 %
Great Britain - 10 %
Iberian Peninsula - 8 %
Western Europe - 5 %
A few odd traces - 3 %
The Viking and Spanish traces were a surprise, especially with the Vikings being second. Then again, they did a lot of raiding of Ireland's coasts, so plausible.

While skimming through a prayer book I came across mention of St. Olaf being a Viking saint, so I looked him up thinking he'd be someone I might want to research.

Apparently he did convert, and according to stories worked to stamp out pagan beliefs and brought in bishops and missionaries, and even prayed as he died after a battle during which some of his own people turned against him. But a lot of the stories about him also involve wars, ambition, and even brutality. I guess that's fitting for a Viking - but for a saint?

He was apparently declared a saint by popular acclamation shortly after he died, and was eventually recognized by Rome. He was more popular after he died, I guess. And he has become a national hero of sorts.

I'll toast him with some mead, but I think I'll focus more on the Irish saints for now.

Pax et bonum

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