Finland is a secular and liberal society, but deep down, most people in this Nordic country are religious. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is the country’s largest religious body. As of 2019, 68.7% of the population are members of this church. It is also one of the world’s largest Lutheran churches.
Christianity in Finland
The southern parts of the country, including Helsinki, the country’s capital, and also the university towns are deemed more liberal. Finland’s west and the north is significantly more religious. These areas are often referred to as the “Bible Belt”. It is a bit like the Bible Belt of America. Here, you will find most people to be politically right-wing and religious. Southwest Norway also has a similar Bible Belt.
The reason for this, go back a long time, to the 11th century, to when Christianity was first introduced in the country as Roman Catholicism. The first missionaries arrived here from Sweden, which is just across the Gulf of Bothnia to the west. This happened twice – the first time between 1050 and 1150, and then again in 1300. Sweden had just become Christianized then. The Orthodox Church of Finland was given the status of the state church in 1918.
The missionaries arrived in Finland’s west and south. The Sami people of Lapland were the last to be converted in the 19th century. But they have remained exclusively Christian since then.
The Swedish people not only brought Christianity into Finland, they were also responsible for establishing administration in the south-west of the country. It spread from here to the east and north.
The country has beautiful churches everywhere. However, most people make the mistake of believing that they are mostly in the populated west and south. Lapland, for instance, may have far fewer people, but you will still find the Old Church of Kolari, Church of Sodankylä, Rovaniemi Church, and the one at Inari.
They are smaller, wooden, but they are beautiful. They look stunning, set within the pristine beauty of Lapland.
While visiting the north to see the churches, make sure you go to Levi Finland, at the heart of Lapland. Cabins in Levi are in exceptional locations, surrounded by pristine nature. The serenity and peace you will find here is perfect for prayers, a meditative vacation, packed with seeing and doing everything Lapland has to offer. You can check out Levi Holidays to know more about the trip of a lifetime.
There is much to see and do in Lapland. Stay at a Levi Ski Resort, to enjoy skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, reindeer safaris, horse safaris, and dog sledding. See the majestic Northern Lights. Don’t forget to visit the Santa Claus Village and send a postcard back home from the Santa Claus Post Office.
Churches with Beautiful Architecture
- Helsinki Cathedral – A prominent church in the country, it is arranged in a Greek cross with 4 symmetrical arms. The Helsinki cathedral is in a neoclassical style. The arch reaches out to 62 meters. It has zinc statues of the “Twelve Messengers” in the corners and peaks of the roof. The altarpiece has been painted by Timofej Adrejevits Neff from St. Petersburg.
- St. John’s Church – Also in Helsinki, this church is in Neo-Gothic design. The twin towers are 74 meters high. Inside, you will find crystal fixtures and colored glass bow windows. The altarpiece, sanctification table, lectern, and the congregation seats are all worth seeing.
- The Rock Church – Located at Lutherinkatu in Helsinki, the Rock Church has a striking copper arch. Completed in 1969, it has been cut from a rock, which gives the church its name. Solid pillars uphold its sparkling copper vault. See the huge rock around this cathedral. This is one of the Lutheran churches you will find in the country.
- Karuna Church – This is a stone church in southwest Finland. Designed by Josef Stenbäck, the Finnish church architect, it was constructed between 1908 and 1910. The building style reflects National Romantic styles with Jugendstil features. The bells you will find here go back even further, to 1689. Don’t miss the alter paintings – they are beautiful. There used to be an older, wooden church here, which you can see now at the open-air museum of Seurasaari in Helsinki.
- Kerimäki Church – It is located in the small town of Kerimäki, close to Finland’s border with Russia. The town is best known for its bright yellow-colored church, which is believed to the largest wooden church in the world. This huge church was constructed in 1847 and has a seating capacity of 3000 people. In total, it was hold up to 5000. It was constructed to hold half of the area’s population. While in Kerimäki, also visit the beautiful Lake Puruvesi, which is just outside the town.
- Kallio Church – A tall Lutheran church in Helsinki that goes back more than 100 years. See the decorative motifs, the use of nature-inspired colors, and how traditional Finnish materials have been used here. Still extremely popular, it is now one of the city’s most recognized landmarks. Many concerts and organ music programs are held here.
There are many other beautiful churches in Finland like the Uspenski Cathedral, Vanha Kirkko, Mikael Agricola Church, and the Kamppi Chapel.
Religion in Finland
Almost 70% of the people in Finland are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. But the country is a liberal society with everyone free to practice their own religion. You will find thousands of Muslims living in the country, though only a few belong to Islamic communities. There are also about 2000 Jews. There are synagogues in Turku and Helsinki. You need only 20 adults to form a religious community. Children also have the right to decide any religious education they want.
The other religious communities include the Evangelical Free Church of Finland, the Catholic Church in Finland, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Finland, the Pentecostal Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Finland is a beautiful country. Part of it is inside the northern Arctic Circle. See the churches, appreciate the architecture, offer your prayers, and spend time enjoying the natural beauty of the country.