by Marion Ueckermann
It’s good to be here…again…taking you all on another Finnish weekend escape. We’re not travelling far from where we stopped in Savonlinna last weekend, and although some twenty-three kilometers away, the town of Kerimäki was consolidated with Savonlinna two years ago.
But before we leave quaint Savonlinna, there’s somewhere I need to take you first—a park close to the center of town. My husband, Noel, and I had fun here creating our own “Where’s Wally” photos behind this huge bronze statue.
Another interesting statue we found in Savonlinna was close to Olavinlinna Castle. Known as the “Spirit of the Castle,” this tall, full-figure metal statue is of Danish knight, Erick Axelsson Tott, clad in armor and gazing toward the castle he had founded—Olavinlinna. The statue was erected on the Tallisaari Island on the 500th anniversary of the castle.
Another famous Savonlinna statue is “The Black Ram.” A black ram (or some other sheep) was kept in the castle. The ram was to be served on St. Olaf’s Day as a sacrificial feast, representing a bridge between old pagan traditions and Christian worship. The last ram of the castle died around 1728 by drowning in a river, marking the end of the tradition. This statue was presented to Savonlinna on its 325th anniversary.
If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to make one last stop at another statue before we head on over to Kerimäki. We had travelled twenty-five kilometers south from Kerimäki. About thirty kilometers (as the crow flies) before the Russian border, we found this fascinating statue outside Punkaharju at Lusto—the Finnish Forest Museum—of an old lumberjack and horse moving enormous logs. Isn’t the detail exquisite?
In Kerimäki we stopped at a Finnish cemetery. Our friend wanted to visit her father’s grave. I’ve never been in such a beautiful and tranquil cemetery before. Uniformed headstones of even size and shape marked each grass-covered grave, while bright flowers brought color to the dark marble blocks. A forest of trees offered shade to the final resting place of the deceased.
Not far from the cemetery, a tall, orangey-yellow and white wooden church reaches nearly thirty-seven meters into the sky. Built between 1844 and1847, the Kerimäki Church is the largest Christian wooden church in the world.
With over 1670 meters of pews, the church seats over 3,000 people and with standing room can hold up to 5,000 at any given time. A short distance from the church there’s a gift shop housed in the bottom of the tower (see right hand insert below).
With its pews, columns, galleries, tie-beams, arches, domes and lanterns, this beautiful church is certainly a masterpiece of carpentry.
Because the church can’t be heated, it’s only used in the summer for services, weddings, festivals and concerts. In 1953, a small church was built beside the huge church so that religious services could be held in the winter. But early on Christmas morning, parishioners gather in the old church and hundreds of candles fill the icy interior with a warm atmosphere.
“Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Contained in the altarpiece, these words of Jesus are the motto of the Kerimäki church.
I loved the true story our friends told us when they took us to the Kerimäki Church of the year that black smoke was seen billowing out of the top tower. The fire brigade was called and the town’s people came to help put out the fire in this wooden church. When the firemen scoured the building they could find no sign of a fire, no smells of a fire, and yet the black smoke was a visible sign of one. Upon inspection up in the tower, they discovered the “black smoke” was actually swarms of mosquitos. In a blog on International Christian Fiction Writers, I wrote about the one thing I never expected in Finland…the infestation of mosquitos in the summer. Seems that year, even the Finns weren’t expecting it.
I trust you’ve enjoyed your visits to Finland, sans mosquitos. In two weeks’ time, I’ll take you on an escape to beautiful Budapest. Hopefully soon, you’ll get to experience a different Finland with me—the winter wonderland including Santa’s home in Lapland.
He needed the island to himself. So did she.
Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter’s plan. But sometimes plans go awry.
On an impromptu trip to her family’s secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.
Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.
Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.
Will he be able to resist her temptations?
Can she withstand his prayers?
Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.
Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube
MARION UECKERMANN’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance novelette, Oslo Overtures, will be published in 2015.
Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.
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