Welcome to the church of St. Lawrence in Janakkala

 

Welcome to the church of St. Lawrence in Janakkala. It is my pleasure to introduce it to You.

Our sanctuary is the youngest stone church in Häme. It was probably consecrated on  September 19, 1520. Its builder is considered to be Åke Tott, at that time the Lord of Häme Castle. Therefore three coats of arms of the Tott family are still to be seen in the church.

According to tradition the first church was built on this site as early as the 13th century, after the first crusade to Finland. The wooden church was probably situated in front of the present belfry.

Long before building the first church the surroundings of the Janakkala church were  a sacred meeting place for the people of Häme. Looking south from the church hill you can see a beautiful, very old conserved landscape.  On the Hakoinen castle hill, which appears in the distance, behind the Räikälä river, there was once an ancient pagan stronghold.

Near the church hill on the slopes of the present Laurinmäki there is the spring of St. Lawrence, which still to day wells up crystal clear water. In heathen times this spring was surrounded by a sacrificial grove dedicated to the god Taara. Magic rites were performed here on the market day of August 10, which was the Mass Day of St. Lawrence. These markets were forbidden by the Cathedral Chapters in the beginning of the 18th century.  

Lauri's spring has got its name from Laurentius, the patron saint of Janakkala, to whom this church is also dedicated. According to a legend archdeacon Laurentius was grilled to death in Rome during the persecutions of the Christians, because he had, on the bishop´s command, sold the church treasures and given the money to the poor.

The fame of St. Lawrence, or Lauri in Finnish, spread with Christianity so that also in Finland many churches were dedicated to him. People turned to Lauri for help when suffering from burns, fever, lumbargo or when tormented by the purgatory as well as in case of fire. Lauri was also the saint of the poor, the librarians, firemen, cooks, bakers, schoolchildren and innkeepers.  

Our church has preserved many antiquities, such as medieval sculptures of saints. On the right-hand side of the altar you can see a sculpture of St. Lawrence, made of one piece of oak. It dates from the beginning of the 14th century and was made in Gothland.

On the right wall of the choir there  is a crucifix from the 15th century. It was restored in year 2000. On the left-hand side of the altar is a sculpture of St. Olav, also dating to the 15th century. At the back of the church on the left-hand side of the doorway there in a statue of St. Stephen. The Finnish national museum returned it to our church in 1998. The crucifix as well as St. Lawrence, St. Olav and St. Stephen have probably been in the previous church, too. The mission candelabrum “the tree of life” next to the sculpture of Stephen was donated by the propeller factory Finnscrew.

Jacob the Elder is on display in the northern wing. The status originates from the 16th century. The rest of our old sculptures are kept in the National Museum.  

The pulpit originates from the early 1660's. The coats of arms Uggla, Brunow, Stierncreutz and von Franck families are from the same century. They are the burial coats of arms of the Lords of Manors.  

The chandeliers were donated to the church. The oldest above the central cross of the church is made of brass and dates from the 18th century.

The original church was rectangular with a vaulted brick ceiling. The vestry was located to the left of the altar facing the north. On both the southern and western sides there was probably a porch.

The church was radically altered in the middle of the 19th century, when the angular vestry was built and the church itself became cruciform, as designed by the two empire style architects Engel and Lohrmann. The altarpiece "Jesus on the cross" was painted by B.A.Godenhjelm.  

In the beginning of the 2Oth century the church was renovated in the jugendstil by architect Armas Lindgren.  

In 1933 the church was restored to its former style by the design of professor Carolus Lindberg, but only a year later a fire destroyed the organ and the interior of the church to such an extent that new restoration was necessary.

The vestry was completely restored in 1982.

During the years 1992‑1993 a basic renovation of the interior was carried out according to plans made by architect Erkki Pitkäranta. The choir was refurnished to answer the demands of the present day. The altar table, for instance, was moved away from the wall so that the priest could stand behind it when officiating at a communion service. During the repair of the pulpit old paintings were discovered under several layers of paint. It was decided that the pulpit should be restored. The whole church was repainted in accordance with its colours.

The fourth organ of our church was installed in 1993. It was built in Martti Porthan's organ workshop. It is completely mechanical with 40 registers and it represents the North-German baroque style. It was modelled after an instrument from 1660. The organ has almost 3000 pipes, the smallest being 10 millimetres long and the largest 5 metres long.

The belfry was constructed by the famous church builder Martti Tolppo. It was completed in 1785. The earlier, all wood church tower was built in the latter half of the 17th century. The church bells date from the 17th and 18th centuries.

The oldest of our church textiles are from the 1930s. Most of them were donated to our church.

The parish of Janakkala has some 13 000 parishioners. It also has churches in Tervakoski and Turenki. 

For centuries people have gathered here in this grey granite church of St. Lawrence

 to hear the word of God. You travellers are also welcome to our traditional service at 10 o+clock every Sunday.

You can get further information on numerous occasions and events from our parish Office annexed to the Turenki parish hall.

Let me end this introduction with a prayer to wish you a safe journey home. May God bless you.   

 

The Lord's blessing

The Lord bless thee and keep thee.

 The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee.

The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee and give thee peace.

 In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.

  Amen.  

 

Pekka Riikonen