Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Thorfinn (d. 1285)

Saint Thorfinn (d. 1285)

Feast day: January 8

Saint Thorfinn was a Norwegian monk and bishop. He lived a very low-profile life. The only public “fame” that he received was when he stood by the archbishop of Norway in an argument with King Eric over state interference in Church matters. For his defiance, Thorfinn was exiled. He found shelter at a Cistercian abbey in Flanders, where he fell ill. Knowing that he would soon be called to his heavenly home, he drafted a will dividing up what little he had between his mother, siblings, monasteries, churches, and charities.

Upon his death, a monk who was acquainted with Thorfinn wrote a poem about him reflecting on his kindness, patience, generosity, and aversion to evil. After penning the poem on parchment, the monk hung it over Thorfinn’s tomb. Because Thorfinn did not attract much attention or controversy during his lifetime, he was soon forgotten, until his tomb was discovered and reopened 50 years later. His remains emitted an odor like a sweet perfume. The parchment poem was also fully intact above his tomb. These two miracles, and many more, are attributed to Saint Thorfinn, and he has a devoted following among Cistercians and Norwegians.