The Holy Cross Church in Hattula
The Holy Cross Church (Pyhän Ristin kirkko)
serves as one of the churches of the local Lutheran congregation. As a museum, it was open during the summer of 2018 daily from 11 am to 5 pm from 15th of May through 31th of August (tel. +358 -3 - 672 3383) except for Midsummer Festival. Admission is free but a guided tour is 6€ per person (free to those under 18 yrs). Admission fee for a group is a maximum of 60€.
You may access the church at any other time by contacting the office of the Lutheran congregation in Hattula, tel. +358-3 - 6311540 (Mon-Thu 9 am to 1 pm). The opening fee of doors during other times is 60 € (free to researchers). The church is closed during the Midsummer Festival as well as the day before that, except for weddings and baptisms.
The Lutheran congregation in Hattula arranges Sunday services and concerts in the Holy Cross Church during the summer. You can find the schedule of the services on the page "Tapahtumat" titled “jumalanpalvelukset ja uskonelämä".
History and Character
The Holy Cross Church was built at the end of the 14th century or in the first half of the 15th century, making it about six hundred years old. One of the distinctive features of the church is its red brick, as grey stone was the usual material of construction in Finland at the time. Only three medieval buildings in Finland were made of brick: the Turku Cathedral, the Castle of Hämeenlinna and this church.
This church was dedicated to the Holy Cross. The legend of the Holy Cross is pictured on the ceiling of the Church: St. Helen, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where she was told to have found the Cross of Christ. She indicated the place she believed to be the site of the crucifixion – and so three crosses were found. One of them cured a woman who was mortally ill, so that cross was taken to be the one on which Christ was crucified. Pieces of wood believed to be fragments of this cross were common relics in medieval times, and one such piece was kept in Hattula in the Church of Holy Cross. It has since become the center for a community of believers here in Finland.
The church contains about two hundred paintings. They were painted at the beginning of the 16th century (1510). The identity of the painters is unknown but they were most likely Finns, possibly nuns. The technique was called al secco. The pictures were painted on a dry surface with colors dissolved in lime-water.
After the Reformation, the attitude towards paintings in churches become less favorable. However, the paintings in the ceiling of this church were never whitewashed as was done in other medieval churches, which is the reason the paintings are so bright. All the colors are original.
The church contains many wooden sculptures. The oldest of them is the triumph crucifix, made by the master of Lieto, the first known Finnish sculptor. There are two pulpits in the church. The smaller one is the oldest extant pulpit in Finland, donated to the church in 1550. The other pulpit is from the 18th century. Both of them are hand made by Finnish artisans.