Author Topic: Why Isn't Leif Erikson a Saint?  (Read 1358 times)

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Offline JamesR

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Why Isn't Leif Erikson a Saint?
« on: April 04, 2012, 03:55:18 PM »
Leif Erikson was the first Viking to convert to Orthodox Christianity and then acted as a missionary introducing Christianity back to his homeland of Greenland. This was before the Great Schism, so, he could be a universal Saint. Also, isn't Leif Erikson like a national hero for many Norse/Scandinavian people? Maybe canonizing him and making him the patron of Northern Europe would spark more interest in Christianity in these areas. Just a thought.
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Offline dzheremi

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Re: Why Isn't Leif Erikson a Saint?
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2012, 04:05:03 PM »
Was he really the first Viking to convert to Orthodoxy? I've never heard that, and apparently I'm (very) distantly related to that guy on my mother's side, via her mother's family who were in Greenland for hundreds of years prior to coming to America just before my grandmother was born in the early 1920s. I didn't get any of the Viking brawn or ability to loot British monasteries, but I got a dumb Anglicized version of his name as my middle name. I'd like to support his candidacy for sainthood in order to restore some of my own dignity, on that account.  :)

(Seriously though, that is neat if it's true. Source, please?)

Offline Schultz

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Re: Why Isn't Leif Erikson a Saint?
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2012, 04:14:42 PM »
Yeah, that's not entirely true.  There were plenty of Danish/Norse converts to Christianity before Leif Ericsson was born about 970. 
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Offline John of the North

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Re: Why Isn't Leif Erikson a Saint?
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2012, 04:45:06 PM »
Was he really the first Viking to convert to Orthodoxy? I've never heard that, and apparently I'm (very) distantly related to that guy on my mother's side, via her mother's family who were in Greenland for hundreds of years prior to coming to America just before my grandmother was born in the early 1920s. I didn't get any of the Viking brawn or ability to loot British monasteries, but I got a dumb Anglicized version of his name as my middle name. I'd like to support his candidacy for sainthood in order to restore some of my own dignity, on that account.  :)

(Seriously though, that is neat if it's true. Source, please?)

Not the first convert, no. Off the top of my head, Robert I of Normandy predates Leif by a near half-century--though admitted his conversion was rather complex, I seem to recall he hedged his bets on his deathbed by sacrificing to his old gods. And there were many others, who served in the Varangian Guard under the Emperor in Constantinople, helped start the Kyivan-Rus state etc.

What is true is that Leif converted to Christianity and was tasked by King Olaf I of Norway with introducing Christianity to Greenland. Snorri Thorfinnson, reportedly born in Vinland/North America, is associated with the Christianisation of Iceland. I have not come across any evidence that clergy were a part of the attempted settlement(s) at Vinland, nor that a church was built.

In any case, we don't pick and choose who is canonised/glorified. Glorification is simply recognition of what is already apparent.
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Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Why Isn't Leif Erikson a Saint?
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2012, 04:47:52 PM »
Leif Erikson was the first Viking to convert to Orthodox Christianity and then acted as a missionary introducing Christianity back to his homeland of Greenland. This was before the Great Schism, so, he could be a universal Saint. Also, isn't Leif Erikson like a national hero for many Norse/Scandinavian people? Maybe canonizing him and making him the patron of Northern Europe would spark more interest in Christianity in these areas. Just a thought.

The bar for sainthood is higher than fame+Orthodoxy+doing some Church stuff.
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Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Why Isn't Leif Erikson a Saint?
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2012, 04:49:16 PM »
Was he really the first Viking to convert to Orthodoxy? I've never heard that, and apparently I'm (very) distantly related to that guy on my mother's side, via her mother's family who were in Greenland for hundreds of years prior to coming to America just before my grandmother was born in the early 1920s. I didn't get any of the Viking brawn or ability to loot British monasteries, but I got a dumb Anglicized version of his name as my middle name. I'd like to support his candidacy for sainthood in order to restore some of my own dignity, on that account.  :)

(Seriously though, that is neat if it's true. Source, please?)

No. There were Orthodox Vikings for 200 years before Erickson, particularly amongst the kings. King Olaf I Trygvasson evangelized Iceland. St. King Olaf II Magnusson was the one who sent Erickson with missionaries.
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Offline dzheremi

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Re: Why Isn't Leif Erikson a Saint?
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2012, 04:52:39 PM »
Ah. Good to know. I'd heard of St. Olaf before, but didn't know his circumstances.

John of the North: That "nomination" comment was a joke. I thought the smiley made that clear, but just so it's on record...

Offline JamesR

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Re: Why Isn't Leif Erikson a Saint?
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2012, 04:59:51 PM »
The bar for sainthood is higher than fame+Orthodoxy+doing some Church stuff.

If that's the case, then why are Vladimir and Constantine Saints? They were just political figures who adopted the religion in their region but did not do much else as far as I can tell.
...Or it's just possible he's a mouthy young man on an internet forum.
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Offline biro

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Re: Why Isn't Leif Erikson a Saint?
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2012, 05:02:18 PM »
Well, that's an interesting question. I'll have to read up on him.
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Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Why Isn't Leif Erikson a Saint?
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2012, 05:02:56 PM »
The bar for sainthood is higher than fame+Orthodoxy+doing some Church stuff.

If that's the case, then why are Vladimir and Constantine Saints? They were just political figures who adopted the religion in their region but did not do much else as far as I can tell.

But they were not "just political figures." Especially with regard to St. Vladimir, he was a man of deep faith and love for the Church, as well as repentance. It would be good to read the lives of these saints, as well as some history, before you make judgments.
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Offline John of the North

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Re: Why Isn't Leif Erikson a Saint?
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2012, 05:08:05 PM »
Ah. Good to know. I'd heard of St. Olaf before, but didn't know his circumstances.

John of the North: That "nomination" comment was a joke. I thought the smiley made that clear, but just so it's on record...

Understood. I should have made it clear that that section of my response was aimed more towards the OP. :)

I should mention, on a tangential point, that there have been rumours of church ruins being found in Connecticut that predate Leif's journeys by several centuries. The source on that is a little suspect, however.
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Offline JamesR

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Re: Why Isn't Leif Erikson a Saint?
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2012, 05:11:59 PM »
The bar for sainthood is higher than fame+Orthodoxy+doing some Church stuff.

If that's the case, then why are Vladimir and Constantine Saints? They were just political figures who adopted the religion in their region but did not do much else as far as I can tell.

But they were not "just political figures." Especially with regard to St. Vladimir, he was a man of deep faith and love for the Church, as well as repentance. It would be good to read the lives of these saints, as well as some history, before you make judgments.

I never knew that about St. Vladimir. If I remember correctly, I think I read before that he was not even nominated until like three hundred years after he died and that it was frowned upon by the Greeks. I guess there is more to him than just being the political guy. Even then though, I think that Leif Erikson was more than just a famour guy who did some Church stuff. He must have loved the Church if he was willing to go on all of these missionaries for it. Even if he was not the first Norse to convert, he did play a major role in the Christianization of his people.
...Or it's just possible he's a mouthy young man on an internet forum.
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Offline Ioannis Climacus

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Re: Why Isn't Leif Erikson a Saint?
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2012, 05:14:04 PM »
The bar for sainthood is higher than fame+Orthodoxy+doing some Church stuff.

If that's the case, then why are Vladimir and Constantine Saints? They were just political figures who adopted the religion in their region but did not do much else as far as I can tell.
If you have some free time, you should check out Eusebius of Caesarea's Life of St. Constantine. The man was truly a saint.
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Offline ialmisry

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Re: Why Isn't Leif Erikson a Saint?
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2012, 05:21:18 PM »
Yeah, that's not entirely true.  There were plenty of Danish/Norse converts to Christianity before Leif Ericsson was born about 970. 
I think he was the first Christian in Greenland, and maybe Iceland.  I'd have to refresh my memory.
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Offline witega

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Re: Why Isn't Leif Erikson a Saint?
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2012, 05:23:05 PM »
The bar for sainthood is higher than fame+Orthodoxy+doing some Church stuff.

If that's the case, then why are Vladimir and Constantine Saints? They were just political figures who adopted the religion in their region but did not do much else as far as I can tell.

You are getting causation and correlation confused. True glorification is something done by God. The official glorification of a saint by a synod of bishops is simply a response to the perception by the members of the Church of those signs of glorification (miracles, answered prayers, etc). Fame, national pride, political partisanship, etc can make influence the perception or (or the refusal to perceive) those signs--which is why the Church teaches that there are more saints that are unknown to any calendar than there are that are formally recognized, and why the act of glorification by a single synod is not an infallible act.

If you believe that Lief Ericson is (or may be) a saint, then the proper course is not to start a political campaign for him. Rather pray for him and to him. Share the results of your devotion with those around you. If he actually is a glorified saint, then this devotion will see responses and will grow. And if he's not--well, praying for his soul never hurt anybody.
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Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Why Isn't Leif Erikson a Saint?
« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2012, 05:39:34 PM »
The bar for sainthood is higher than fame+Orthodoxy+doing some Church stuff.

If that's the case, then why are Vladimir and Constantine Saints? They were just political figures who adopted the religion in their region but did not do much else as far as I can tell.

But they were not "just political figures." Especially with regard to St. Vladimir, he was a man of deep faith and love for the Church, as well as repentance. It would be good to read the lives of these saints, as well as some history, before you make judgments.

I never knew that about St. Vladimir. If I remember correctly, I think I read before that he was not even nominated until like three hundred years after he died and that it was frowned upon by the Greeks. I guess there is more to him than just being the political guy. Even then though, I think that Leif Erikson was more than just a famour guy who did some Church stuff. He must have loved the Church if he was willing to go on all of these missionaries for it. Even if he was not the first Norse to convert, he did play a major role in the Christianization of his people.

Not really. I think the information you have on Erickson and missionaries is inflated.
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If you spend long enough on this forum, you'll come away with all sorts of weird, untrue ideas of Orthodox Christianity.
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Offline vorgos

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Re: Why Isn't Leif Erikson a Saint?
« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2012, 10:38:33 AM »
The bar for sainthood is higher than fame+Orthodoxy+doing some Church stuff.

If that's the case, then why are Vladimir and Constantine Saints? They were just political figures who adopted the religion in their region but did not do much else as far as I can tell.

Here is a podcast on why Constantine is a Saint. And from said in the podcast, his father may be one too...

http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/thearena/st._constantine_the_great