vendredi 22 mai 2015

Saint HEMMING de ABO, évêque


Saint Hemming

Évêque en Finlande ( 1366)

Né au nord d'Uppsala en Suède en 1290, il étudia la théologie en France puis devint évêque d'Abo (aujourd'hui Turku), en Finlande. Hemming (évêque de 1338 à 1366) a organisé le régime 

ecclésiastique en Finlande, il a été béatifié en 1499. Il mourut le 21 mai 1366.

À Aboë en Finlande, l’an 1366, saint Hemming, évêque. Brûlant de zèle pastoral, il restaura, par un décret pris en synode, la discipline de cette Église, favorisa les études des clercs, donna un nouvel élan au culte divin et promut la paix entre les peuples du pays.

Martyrologe romain

Hemming de Abo


Hemming vit le jour dans la fin du 13e siècle à Abo (Balinge, Uppsala, Suède, auj. Turku, Finlande).

Après des études à Uppsala, il fut ordonné prêtre, puis envoyé compléter cette formation à Paris, où il connut le futur pape Clément VI. Il commença alors à se constituer une importante bibliothèque de théologie et de droit canonique.

En 1329, il fut nommé chanoine de la cathédrale d’Abo, et fut remarqué au point d’être choisi à l’unanimité des chanoines, pour devenir évêque, en 1338.

Hemming put accomplir un travail considérable dans son diocèse, qui en avait besoin : il créa la table épiscopale, développa l’enseignement dans les écoles, en particulier à l’intention des futurs prêtres. Il fit don à la cathédrale de sa bibliothèque et envoya ses meilleurs séminaristes étudier comme lui à Paris.

Il organisa des synodes pour reprendre toute la vie liturgique et spirituelle des diocésains.

En 1347, il vint à Paris sur invitation de sainte Brigitte (v. 23 juillet), rencontra Clément VI en Avignon pour le persuader de revenir à Rome, et proposa ses services pour rétablir la paix entre les deux rois de France et d’Angleterre.

Hemming mourut le 21 mai 1266, déjà honoré comme saint grâce aux nombreux miracles obtenus par son intercession. Toutefois, ces actes ayant été perdus, la canonisation fut lente. En 1514, on autorisa son culte ; l’actuel Martyrologe lui attribue le titre de Saint.

Hemming of Finland BM

Born at Balinge near Uppsala, Sweden, in 1290; died May 22, 1366. After studying theology in Paris, France, Hemming became a canon of Abo cathedral in Helsinki, Finland, and, in 1339, its bishop. Hemming was involved in the border disputes with Uppsala, from where Saint Henry of Finland evangelized Finland. He is also associated with Saint Bridget of Sweden, whom he accompanied to France. Saint Bridget and Hemming worked together to bring peace to the Hundred Years War between England and France and to end the Avignon papacy.

In 1352, Hemming convened a diocesan synod in which he demonstrated his zeal for proper 

celebrations of the feasts of the Church and the local saints of Scandinavia. He was also concerned with the custody of the Eucharist, the administration of Church property, and releasing poor people from the payment of stipends for dispensations or for funerals.

Saint Hemming was buried in his cathedral, where miracles were reported at his tomb. In 1514, his relics were translated and enshrined. A surviving, embroidered altar frontal survives which depicts Saints Hemming and Bridget together as an angel holds the mitre over the bishop's head (Farmer).


Blessed Hemming was the bishop of Fennia or Österland – then the eastern province OF the republic of Finland.

Hemming was one of the uttermosts prominent individuals among the Catholic bishops of the medieval times in Scandinavia. St Bridget of Sweden described him as “A very courageous man – without fear of men – devoted, yes, ascetical pious; a contemplative but at the same time an active and hardworking man.

The Early years:

There are little known about his early years but he was born around 1290 in Pålsbo a small village in Bälinge parish north of the city of Uppsala. He came from a fortunate Swedish family and had close contacts with Swedish nobility. He attended the Cathedral school at Uppsala and continued his studies in Paris, where he first took a degree in Arts, then in Theology and in Law. In Paris he had the forthcoming pope Clemens VI as teacher.

There is a mention of a Hemming who was a kanik, a canon priest, in Åbo in 1329, and this is most probably him they are referring to. According to common belief was Hemming imprisoned by king Magnus Ladulås because of some harsh words about a Swedish duke… Later he was however said to side with the king again, saying that he “rather have Magnus as a ruler, no matter what has been, then having the German regiment.” However there is not to my knowledge any historical proof of this incidence.

Bishop of Åbo:

In 1339 he was chosen unanimously, with divina inspiriatione, to the bishop chair of Åbo. He fought against worldly interference in the churchly domains of Finland, which’s excellence he also was an advocate for. He was held in very high esteem by his contemporary. He made wise laws and built numerous churches. He was concerned with the proper celebrations of the church feast and the Scandinavian saints, but also with administration of church property and for releasing the poor from payment of stipends for dispensations or for funerals.

Hemming supervised vividly the church taxes and even contradicted a verdict from the king in benefit for the people of Nyland, a Finnish region. In 1340 he established the dean office of Åbo Cathedral. He made a grand donation of 40 very valuable books, mostly theological literature, to the Åbo Cathedral and in this way founded the first library in Finland.

By gifts and trade he also increased the wealth and the properties of the diocese which had been looted by the Russians in 1318. He founded both a Cathedral school in Åbo and a hospital. He was not particularly involved in the state affairs of Sweden/Finland but in 1343 he took part in the union between the Swedish king and the southern parts of Scandinavia (Blekinge, Småland and Skåne). In 1346, together with the archbishop of Uppsala, he also laid out the borders between the dioceses of Swedish Uppsala and Finnish Åbo. In 1352 he finished his work Statua, with rules for the responsibilities of the Finnish priests and with Finland’s first Church Ordinance.

Friendship with St Bridget:

He had a strong friendship with St Bridget of Sweden and he went to France a second time between 1347 until 1349, this time on St Brigit’s initiative. She chose him to accompany her confessor, the Cistercian Prior Peter of Alvastra, in a mission to his former teacher, Pope Clement VI at Avignon to try to convince him to move back to Rome and to urge him to reform his own lasciviousness and to cease supporting the King of France. Hemming also paid visit to the Kings of England and France with another revelation from Bridget, in an effort to try to achieve peace between the nations. Neither of those matters succeeded but a deep friendship between him and St Bridget was established.

From the revelations of St Bridget we can read about a dinner with Hemming where Hemming thought it was peculiar that Bridget didn’t hesitated herself in enjoying the food when she was a woman gifted by the holy spirit. Bridget did not now anything about what Hemming had thought but in the evening before Vesper, she had a revelation wherein a voice spoke to her: “Look, your neighbor at the table has problems with your meal” Hemming recognized that the revelation was about him and he apologized and asked for Bridget’s forgiveness and prayers.

On the third day thereafter Virgin Mary shows her self to Bridget and says: “Tell the bishop that – although he always begins his sermons with praising me and that his judgment was not out of ill will but of love – his love still needs to be mitigated. Tell him that I want to be for him a mother, and present his spirit before God.”

His later years:

He seemed to have a great pathos on behalf of Finland and worked for that the region should be treated as an equal to the other regions of Sweden and at the king’s election on February the 15th in 1362, by the initiative of Hemming, representatives of Österland partook in the election of Håkan Magnussons as the new king after Magnus Ladulås: Österland, the eastern country was thereafter an integrated and equal part of Sweden, until the Greater and the Lesser Wrath in the 1800-century, when Russia occupied Finland.

Well over 80 years old, bishop Hemming had his heavenly birthday 1366, The 21st of May which is now celebrated as his memorial day throughout Scandinavia.

The canonization process:

Blessed Hemming was buried in his cathedral in Åbo, where miracles were reported at his tomb. In July 16th, 1497 pope Alexander VI gave permission for the beatification of Hemming and his relics were enshrined in 1514. He’s supposed canonization which was planned to the year 1530 was abandoned due to the reformation.

Hemming today:

During the reformation devote Catholics hid the relics in the walls of the Cathedral in Åbo. When they where found during a restoration in the twentieth century the sacred relics were confiscated by the Finnish state and are now locked in the cellar of a museum. They are not on display. The Catholic community is trying to get the relics back so they once again can be revered.

The Catholic community of Finland is also having discussions with the Vatican to revive the canonization process. However the old documents in the Vatican archives must be located, further discussions between the authorities of the Catholic community in Finland and the proper instances in Vatican must continue further. Such a Canonization would indeed be very important in bringing Finland back to Catholicism.

There was also great interest in the 2007 years Autuaan Hemmingin pyhiinvaellus, the Blessed Hemming’s pilgrimage among both local press in Finland as well as by Catholic priests and even among the Lutheran parishes we passed along the road. I have great hope that this pilgrimage will be an annual tradition until the sainthood of Blessed Hemming is officially recognized.

To further the canonisation of Blessed Hemming:

– Autuas Hemming, rukoile puolestamme.
– Salige Hemming, bed för oss.
Blessed Hemming, pray for us.

This text was based on the Swedish nineteenth century encyclopedia Nordisk Familjebok, the revelations of St. Bridget and the wonderful book “Biskop Hemming av Åbo” from 1960, by B. Klockars. Maiju Lehmijoki has written this interesting article about St Birgitta of Sweden’s influence in Finland.

See more pictures from the Blessed Hemming Pilgrimage 2007.



(1290 - 1366)

Hemming was one of the most notable medieval Finnish bishops. He was a bishop for almost thirty years, performed diplomatic duties abroad and was a close friend of St Birgitta. But what puts Hemming in a special position is the fact that he was the other Bishop of Turku, after St Henrik, to be beatified.

Hemming was one of the most notable medieval Finnish bishops. He was a bishop for 28 years, developed his diocese, performed diplomatic duties abroad and was a close friend of St Birgitta. But what elevates Hemming to a special position is the fact that he was the other Bishop of Turku, after St Henrik, to be beatified.

According to the Chronicle of Bishops, Hemming was born in 1290. This piece of information is not necessarily reliable, but his birth date was around 1300 at the latest. Hemming originally came from Sweden, from the parish of Bälinge near Uppsala, where he inherited a farm called Pålsbo. He was of a knightly family, but there is no more precise knowledge of his family roots. Apparently Hemming began his studies at the Uppsala Cathedral School and continued them at the University of Paris. The only source refers to theological studies in the early 1320s, but there are reasons to believe that he had previously studied at the Faculty of Arts. Hemming's theological studies were directed by Maître Pierre Roger (Petrus Rogerii), who later became Pope Clement VI.

After his studies, Hemming may have worked as a priest in the Archdiocese of Uppsala, but he did not belong to its Cathedral Chapter. In 1329 at the latest he received a canonry from the Diocese of Turku; this may have been associated with the office of Parish Priest of Kemiö. Hemming's move to the Diocese of Turku was obviously due to the influence of Bishop Bengt (Benedictus), who came from the same area of Sweden; Hemming is not known to have had any previous connections with Finland. After the death of Bishop Bengt, the Turku Cathedral Chapter elected Hemming as Bishop in November 1338. The election occurred via inspirationis - by spontaneous and unanimous acclamation. Hemming was consecrated a bishop in the Great Church in Stockholm, evidently in November 1339.

Hemming became energetically involved in the development of the diocese from the very beginning of his period as bishop. In 1340 he established the post of Dean of Turku Cathedral; the incumbent lived permanently in Turku and assisted the bishop in leading the diocese. Because the bishop did not have a town residence in Turku, Hemming acquired the Kairinen estate, which was in the direction of Kaarina but very close to the cathedral.

Turku Cathedral still bore the scars of the fire of 1318; to help finance the repairs, Hemming acquired letters of indulgence from the Pope and, in 1353, permission to transfer a third of the tithes gathered by the parish churches to the cathedral. Hemming had a new chancel built for the cathedral; this was evidently a five-sided chancel, which was later demolished. During his episcopacy the first side-altars were erected in the cathedral; a prebend, or altar fund, was associated with these. In 1354 Hemming also presented the cathedral with his library. This contained some forty books: works of the Church Fathers, more recent theological literature and a comprehensive collection of works on Canon Law.

Bishop Hemming strove to raise standards among the clergy of his diocese. He tightened adherence to the rule of celibacy and prohibited priests from moving to another diocese without permission from the bishop. From his episcopacy comes the first mention of a number of Finnish priests' undertaking university studies. In 1352 Hemming issued synodal statutes; the regulations contained in them mainly concerned finances, the external order of the Church, and the liturgy. These ordinances were mostly borrowed from older Swedish statutes, but they were modified to suit conditions in the Diocese of Turku.

In dealing with the affairs of his diocese, Hemming conducted a number of episcopal visitations. When a dispute arose with the Archbishop of Uppsala over the boundary between the dioceses, Hemming travelled all the way to Tornio in 1346. There he met his namesake, Archbishop Hemming, and reached agreement with him that the diocesan boundary should run between the parishes of Tornio and Kemi.

Bishop Hemming developed and improved the system of ecclesiastical taxes in his diocese and strengthened the position of the Bishop of Turku. He personally issued tax regulations for the different provinces of Finland and also asked the king to issue such regulations. For the Turku episcopal, Hemming also acquired numerous farms - as far as is known, more than any other bishop of Turku. he tenaciously defended the rights of the bishop - for example, when a dispute arose over the bishop's share of fish catches or the collection of fees.

Bishop Hemming stated that he supported the position of Canon Law, according to which the temporal authorities had no powers to intervene in ecclesiastical affairs. On several occasions, however, he was forced to turn to King Magnus II for help in order to resolve disputes concerning taxes and the rights of a bishop. In 1351 the king handed over to Padis Monastery in Estonia the patronage rights to the Parish of Porvoo and to the chapels at Pernaja and Sipoo. Initially Hemming had to acquiesce; but he succeeded in having the monastery's rights temporarily annulled in 1362.

During Hemming's episcopacy, the Diocese of Turku increasingly became a target of the Pope's taxation and appointments policies. In order to prevent the king from taking advantage of this situation, as he was doing in Sweden, Hemming negotiated an agreement (1352) which precisely delimited the king's patronage rights in Finland. By contrast, Hemming was on good terms with the archbishops of Uppsala.

Hemming was one of the circle of friends of the Swedish visionary Birgitta and enjoyed her trust. Birgitta has given us a many-sided description of Hemming's character: on the one hand daring, active and energetic; on the other, humble, pious and disciplined - positively ascetic. At Birgitta's behest Hemming travelled to France, probably in 1348, with Petrus Olavi, the Prior of Alvastra Monastery. Their mission was to convey to Pope Clement VI, who was residing at Avignon - and to Edward III of England and Philip VI of France - messages from Birgitta clothed in the form of revelationes. Hemming's voyage did not, however, bring about the desired results.

Presumably Bishop Hemming shared Birgitta's view that the time was ripe to convert the Karelians beyond the border to Roman Catholicism. There is, however, no indication that he took an active part in King Magnus II's crusade plans, which led to the unsuccessful campaign against Russia in 1348 - 50. The enterprise included a plan to establish in Karelia a diocese of its own, an idea which Bishop Hemming would hardly have supported. As a result of the campaign, the king was forced to take out a loan from the Pope's tax revenues, and Hemming and the other Swedish bishops had to act as guarantors. Hemming was later obliged, under threat of excommunication, to pay off this loan, the Pope even confiscating his posthumous estate.

In Sweden a political crisis erupted in the 1350s, and Bishop Hemming could not avoid taking a stand. He had earlier been on good terms with King Magnus II, but relations had cooled because of the king's inept handling of his debts. Thus Hemming attempted to remain neutral in the quarrels between the king and his sons Erik and Håkan. Despite this balancing act, in 1360 Hemming evidently fell into such disfavour with Magnus that the king had him imprisoned for some time. Hemming was freed in 1362 at the latest, when he set his seal to a letter of King Håkan granting representatives of Finland the right to participate in the election of the king of Sweden. During the power struggle between Magnus II and Albert of Mecklenburg, Bishop Hemming initially supported Magnus, but went over to Albert after the latter had consolidated his position as king. In 1364 Albert confirmed the prerogatives of the Bishop and Cathedral of Turku.

Bishop Hemming died in May 1366 - according to some sources, suddenly. He was buried in the chancel that he had built at Turku Cathedral. After his death, an aura of sanctity began to develop around his memory, primarily because of his close association with St Birgitta. As early as 1416, miraculous events claimed to be connected with Hemming began to be recorded in Turku. There already existed a popular cult asserting his sanctity, but apparently no application for the Pope's official confirmation of Hemming's sainthood was made until the late 15th century.

In 1497 the Pope granted permission for Hemming to be venerated as beatus - blessed - in the Nordic countries and for his remains to be moved from his tomb to a reliquary. Hemming's beatification ceremony - the moving of his sacred remains - could not, however, be performed until 1514 because of the unsettled conditions at the beginning of the 16th century. The Reformation put an end to the process of Hemming's canonisation, so that he did not become an actual saint - a sanctus - but remained a beatus.

Turku Cathedral possesses a wooden casket for sacred remains. According to the general view, this is Hemming's reliquary, although it has also been suggested that it may be the reliquary of St Henrik. In the casket are preserved parts of the skeleton of an elderly, powerfully built man - a description which seems to fit Bishop Hemming. No church in Finland possesses a sacred picture known with certainty to be of Hemming, but a picture in the former altar screen of Urjala Church probably depicts him.

Ari-Pekka Palola

Translated by Roderick Fletcher


Hemming (Hemmingus), born c. 1290 Bälinge, Uppland, Sweden, died 21.5.1366 Turku, buried in Turku Cathedral. Parents: Swedish nobleman, name unknown, and Katarina, family name unknown.


 Hemming of Abo

bishop in Finland. He was born in Sweden at Balinge (near Uppsala) and studied theology and canon law at Paris. In 1329 he became a canon of Abo cathedral (Helsinki) and in 1339 its bishop. Although zealous for his diocese, he also travelled much, both over border disputes with Uppsala, from where Henry of Finland had pioneered its conversion, but also through accompanying Bridget of Sweden to France. This queen worked with Hemming's help both to end the Hundred Years War between England and France and to end the residence of the popes in Avignon.
Hemming's diocesan synod of 1352 reveals his care for the proper celebration of the main feasts of the Church as well as those of the local saints of Scandinavia, Henry, Eric, and Olaf. He was also concerned with the custody of the Eucharist, with the administration of Church property and with suppressing the payment of fees by poor people either for dispensations or for funerals. He died on 22 May and was buried at Abo cathedral. Miracles were recorded at his tomb and in 1514 the Holy See authorized the translation and enshrinement of his relics. A fine embroidered altar frontal survives in Finland, which depicts Hemming and Bridget together: an angel holds the mitre over his head. Feast: 22 May.
Bibl. SS., vii. 584–6