Sanctus Hallvardus

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According to his legend St. Hallvard (ca. 1020-1043), patron saint of Oslo, was killed as a young man in an attempt to help a pregnant woman flee from three men chasing her, accusing her of being a thief. Hallvard was killed with bow and arrow and thrown in the sea with a stone tied to his neck. A millstone later became the symbol of his martyrdom. According to Icelandic annals this occurred in 1043, and the date of his martyrdom was 15 May.

He is mentioned in Adam of Bremen (ca. 1070; book 3, ch. 54) as Alfwardus, a holy man killed by friends for protecting an enemy. The legend claims that Hallvard on his mother’s side was a close relative of >Sanctus Olavus. Hallvard’s body was some time after his death translated from Lier (by modern day Drammen) to Oslo. It has been suggested that this was done as early as the mid eleventh century by his relative Harald Hardråde Sigurdsson (1015-1066) (MUNCH 1851, 197-98). His shrine was placed in St. Hallvard’s church, a church first mentioned by Snorre in connection with the burial of Sigurd Jorsalfar in 1130 (Saga of the sons of Magnus, ch. 33). The church burned a few years later (1137), but the shrine of St. Hallvard was rescued (Snorre, Saga of King Inge, chs. 3-4). St. Hallvard was mainly worshipped in Norway, Iceland and Skara, the Swedish see closest to Oslo.

Two versions of his legend are completely transmitted. Two other versions, discovered among the fragment material in the National Archives in Oslo and Stockholm, were edited in the 1960s, cf. (1) Legenda. All the transmitted texts are in the form of lessons, and all of them are answering to a common ancestor. The remains of what may have been a proper office (historia) are visible on a fragment in Oslo, National Archives, see Officium (2). A sequence for St. Hallvard was discovered in an Icelandic manuscript fragment in the early twentieth century, see Missa (3).