Finn the gian and the Minster of Lund

In Germanic culture, the Jötnar are giants with superhuman strength who live in Jötunheim, while humans live in Midgard. The two worlds are separated by huge mountains and dense forests.
When Scandinavia was converted to Christianity, the Swedes, Norwegians and Danes, as well as the Icelanders and Faroese, preserved their ancient beliefs, keeping Nordic mythology alive right up to modern times.
The Swedish folk tale we’re interested in today is a perfect illustration of this mix of Christian and pagan beliefs in Scandinavia. This is the story of Saint Lawrence and the Minster of Lund !

In the province of Skåne, Sweden, lies the city of Lund. This southern city is home to Scandinavia’s first archbishopric and its Romanesque cathedral, a huge, beautiful building with a crypt beneath the choir. But this cathedral is unusual in that it was never finished!

Saint Lawrence came to Lund at the dawn of Christianity in Scandinavia. He wanted to build a church where he could preach the good word, but he didn’t know how to finance his project.

As he sat pondering how to make his wish come true, a giant came to meet him. He offered to build a church for him, on condition that Saint Lawrence would guess his name before the work was completed. If he fails, he must hand over the sun, the moon or his eyes as compensation.
Saint Lawrence accepted the giant’s offer.

The giant made rapid progress on the church, while Saint Lawrence found himself at a loss when faced with the challenge. Unable to guess the giant’s name, and sad at the thought of losing his eyes, he went to a hill to rest. Then he heard the cries of a baby and the comforting voice of his mother:

“sleep, dear child, sleep, soon your father Finn will be here; then you’ll have the sun, the moon or Saint Lawrence’s eyes to play with”.

Overjoyed, Saint Lawrence, who now knew the giant’s name, hurried to the church. The giant Finn was about to lay the last stone when the Saint called out to him:

“Finn, Finn, make sure you get that last stone right!”

Mad with rage, the giant Finn threw the last stone away and declared that this church would remain unfinished forever. The Minster of Lund remains unfinished to this day!

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