I visited Turku Cathedral in early September, that is why the first two christmassy photos are from online, others are mine. Turku Cathedral is the previous Catholic cathedral of Finland, today the Mother Church of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. It is situated in the heart of Turku by the river Aura and is also central to Finland's annual Christmas celebrations.
Every year, at noon on Christmas Eve, the Christmas Peace is declared from the city of Turku and this tradition is broadcasted over the country. The declaration is read out loud in Finnish and Swedish to remind people that Christmas peace has begun, to advise people to spend the festive period in harmony, to threaten offenders with harsh punishments, and to wish all a Merry Christmas. The declaration’s wording is traditional and I try to translate it in English.
Tomorrow, if God wills, is the gracious birthday of our Lord and Savior; and thus be proclaimed universal Christmas peace by urging all to celebrate this occasion with appropriate devotion and otherwise behave quietly and peacefully, for the one who violates this peace and disturbs Christmas peace by any illegal or inappropriate conduct is to be sued for the punishment specified by law and regulations of each offense and delict separately. Finally, a joyful Christmas is wished for all the residents of the city.
The cathedral was originally built out of wood in the late 13th century, and was dedicated as the main cathedral of Finland in 1300, the seat of the Catholic bishop of Turku. It was considerably expanded in the 14th and 15th centuries, mainly using stone as the construction material. The cathedral was badly damaged during the Great Fire of Turku in 1827, and was rebuilt to a great extent afterwards.
Painting of the Cathedral and the Academy building after the fire,
by Gustaf Wilhelm Finnberg whose atelier also burned down, 1827. Public Domain.
The cathedral was shady, so photos are a bit unsharp.
Votive ships have been donated, for example, in accordance with the promises
made to God in a maritime distress. The tradition was strongest in coastal areas.
About half of the more than 200 votive ships that have been or are in the Finnish churches
date back to the 17th and 18th centuries.
High up in the attic there was the Turku Cathedral Museum that displays
statues of saints and altarpieces from the Catholic Middle Ages. The time after the Reformation
is told by church textiles and silverware by skilled artists.
In the museum you can also get acquainted with the construction phases of the Cathedral.
Swedish-born Per Brahe (1602–1680) served as Finland's governor general in the 17th century.
He developed the Finnish administration and established ten new cities in Finland.
Sculptor Walter Runeberg has portrayed Per Brahe as a confident ruler. The monument stands
in the Brahe Park next to Turku Cathedral. There is a sentence on the pedestal:
I was satisfied with the country and the country was very pleased with me.