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Encyclopedia > Bishop Thomas
Denomination   Roman Catholic
Senior posting
See   Presumably in Nousiainen
Title   Bishop of Finland
Period in office   1230s? - 1245
Predecessor   Unknown
Successor   Bero (Björn)
Date of birth   Unknown
Place of birth   Unknown

Bishop Thomas is the first known Bishop of Finland. Only a few facts remain about his life. He resigned in 1245 and died in Visby three years later. The Roman Catholic Church, most often spoken of simply as the Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with over one billion members. ... Province Western Finland Region Finland Proper District Turku City manager Hannu Rämö Official languages Finnish Area  - total  - land ranked 331st 198. ... Visby is the largest city on the Swedish island of Gotland;it is arguably the best-preserved medieval town in Scandinavia, and has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. ...



The only reference to Bishop Thomas during his episcopate in Finland is a letter signed by him in Nousiainen in 1234, which granted certain lands around the parish to his chaplain, Wilhelm.[1] The lands may be related to the papal permission from Pope Gregory IX in early 1229 that authorized the church to take over all non-Christian places of worship in Finland.[2] The letter is the first surviving letter ever written in Finland. Province Western Finland Region Finland Proper District Turku City manager Hannu Rämö Official languages Finnish Area  - total  - land ranked 331st 198. ... A chaplain is typically a member of the clergy serving a group of people who are not organized as a mission or church; lay chaplains are also found in some settings such as universities. ... Papal Arms of Pope Gregory IX. Gregory IX, né Ugolino di Conti (Anagni, ca. ...

No further information on bishop's activities has survived before he was granted resignation by Pope Innocent IV in February 21, 1245.[3] According to the Pope, Thomas had admitted committing several felonies, like torturing a man to death and forging a papal letter.[4] Church representatives to oversee the resignation were the Archbishop of Uppsala and the Dominican prior of the Dacian province. Thomas donated his books to the newly established Dominican convent in Sigtuna[5] and went on to live his last years in the Dominican convent in Visby, Gotland. He died there in 1248,[6] shortly before the Second Swedish Crusade which cemented the Swedish rule in Finland for more than 550 years. Pope Innocent IV (Manarola, 1180/90 – Naples, December 7, 1254), born Sinibaldo de Fieschi, Pope from 1243 to 1254, belonged to the feudal nobility of Liguria, the Fieschi, counts of Lavagna. ... The Patriarchal cross The Archbishops Palace in Uppsala, designed in the 18th century by the architect Carl Hårleman, but built on older foundations. ... Prior is a title, derived from the Latin adjective for earlier, first, with several notable uses. ... Sigtuna is a city in central Sweden in the metropolitan area of Stockholm. ... The Second Swedish Crusade was a Swedish military expedition to Finland. ...

During Thomas' episcopate, Finland is listed among the lands under the papal legate in the Baltic region, originally the Bishop of Zemgale, Baldwin, and then Wilhelm of Sabina, first in January 28, 1232 and last July 15, 1244.[7] The Pope even asked the Livonian Brothers of the Sword to assist the unnamed Bishop of Finland to defend the country against the Novgorodian attacks in November 24, 1232.[8] After Thomas had resigned, there was no immediate successor to him, and the diocese continued to be overseen by Wilhelm at least until June 5, 1248.[9] Finland is not listed among the Swedish dioceses in surviving documents from 1241 and 1248, but appears among them in 1253.[10] Zemgale (also historically known as Semigallia or Semigalia) forms an historical region of Latvia, sometimes also including a part of Lithuania. ... Livonian Brothers The Livonian Brothers of the Sword (Latin Fratres militiae Christi, literally the brothers of the army of Christ), also known as the Christ Knights, Sword Brethren or The Militia of Christ of Livonia, was a military order organized in 1202 by Albert of Buxhoeveden, bishop of Riga (or...

Even though Thomas is the first known Bishop of Finland, it is sure that he was not the first bishop overall. An unnamed Bishop of Finland is mentioned dead in a letter by Pope Innocent III already in 1209.[11] Pope Innocent III (c. ...


Being the first historical figure of importance in Finland, historians have tried to attribute Thomas with more significance than what is evident from the existing sources.[12]

Unknown bishop in the 1220s

Most commonly, Thomas is speculated to have been the unnamed Bishop of Finland to whom Pope Gregory IX replied in January, 1229 with several letters of great importance to the church,[13] in the aftermath of major Finnish losses in the battle against the Republic of Novgorod. Church representatives ordered by the Pope to assist the unnamed bishop were the Bishop of Linköping and the Cistercian abbot in Gotland.[14] Papal Arms of Pope Gregory IX. Gregory IX, né Ugolino di Conti (Anagni, ca. ... Scattered information on wars against Finland or by Finns to neighboring countries prior to the Swedish conquest has survived in Icelandic sagas, German, Norwegian, Danish and Russian chronicles and Swedish legends. ... Bishops of the Diocese of Linköping, Sweden. ... The Order of Cistercians (OCist) (Latin Cistercenses), otherwise Gimey or White Monks (from the colour of the habit, over which is worn a black scapular or apron) are a Catholic order of monks. ... Abbots coat of arms The word abbot, meaning father, has been used as a Christian clerical title in various, mainly monastic, meanings. ...   is a county and province of Sweden and the largest island in the Baltic Sea. ...

Thomas' identification with the bishop remains doubtful, as there are good reasons to assume that Thomas was a Dominican monk and it is unlikely that a Dominican was already a bishop in Finland before they had arrived to Gotland in 1229. It can also be argued that involvement of Cistercians in the 1229 events makes a Dominican bishop questionable. Noteworthy is also that the church of Nousiainen was already in 1232 dedicated to Virgin Mary, the aim of Cistercians' utter devotion, otherwise a rare dedication in medieval Finland.[15] In 1229, the Pope had given permission to transfer the see to a "more suitable" location. Five years later, it seems to have been in Nousiainen, in the church of Virgin Mary. The term Virgin Mary has several different meanings: Mary, the mother of Jesus, the historical and multi-denominational concept of Mary Blessed Virgin Mary, the Roman Catholic theological and doctrinal concept of Mary Marian apparitions shrines to the Virgin Mary Virgin Mary in Islam, the Islamic theological and doctrinal concept...

Cistercians dominated the missionary work in the eastern Baltic Sea until end of 1220s. Soon thereafter, they were thrown into the background, when Teutonic Knights and Pope Gregory IX started to favor Dominicans. Christian of Oliva, a Cistercian strong man in the Baltics, had been imprisoned in 1233 for several years, which quickly paved way for Dominicans to take over. For Sienkiewicz novel, see The Teutonic Knights. ... Christian of Oliva was the first bishop of Prussia. ...

A surviving letter by Pope Gregory IX directly to the chaplain of Nousiainen in October 20, 1232 makes the Finnish see appear vacant.[16] In some copies of the letter, the Bishop of Finland is also referred to as "N.", while not directly saying whether he was still in office or not.

Uprising in Tavastia

Violent anti-church clashes in Tavastia, central Finland, mentioned in a letter by Pope Gregorius IX in 1237 have been attributed to Thomas' harsh methods of christianization, however without direct evidence of that.[17] Oddly enough, the letter, addressed to the Archbishop of Uppsala, does not mention Bishop or Diocese of Finland in any way. Tavastia, Tavastland or Häme, is a historical province in the south of Finland. ...

Battle of the Neva

Thomas is also speculated to have been one of the driving forces behind the Battle of the Neva, a disputed Swedish-Novgorodian conflict that took place in 1240. The speculation is based on the Russian Primary Chronicle that mentions Finns and Tavastians to have fought on the Swedish side, which according to some historians would have been organized by the bishop. However, as the Chronicle also lists the very unlikely Norwegians as Swedes' allies,[18] the information is often regarded as the mid-14th century propaganda, the time when the Chronicle was written, with Sweden in control of Norway, Finland and Tavastia. The Battle of the Neva (Невская битва in Russian, or Nevskaya bitva), a Swedish armies on the Neva River on July 15, 1240. ... The Russian Primary Chronicle (Russian: Повесть временных лет, Povest vremennykh let, which is often translated in English as Tale of Bygone Years), is a history of the early East Slavic state, Kievan Rus, from...

See also

Bishop Henry and Lalli as depicted in Missale Aboense. ...


  1. ^ Letter by Bishop Thomas to his chaplain. In Latin. Hosted by the National Archive of Finland. See [1] and Diplomatarium Fennicum from the menu.
  2. ^ Letter by Pope Gregory IX. In Latin.
  3. ^ Letter by Pope Innocent IV. In Latin.
  4. ^ A mid-15th century chronicle Chronicon episcoporum Finlandensium by an unknown writer claimed that the reason for bishop's resignation was "fury of Curonians and Russians".
  5. ^ Confirmation of the donation. In Latin. One of the books ("Cod. Ups. C 134") still survives, with a curse written on it by the monks in case someone steals it. See also [2].
  6. ^ The year of his death is from the Chronicon episcoporum Finlandensium.
  7. ^ See Finland (Vinlandie, Winlandiam) mentioned among the lands under the legate: [3], [4] and [5]. All in Latin.
  8. ^ Letter by Pope Gregory IX. In Latin.
  9. ^ Letter by Wilhelm of Sabina to the priest of Finland. In Latin.
  10. ^ Suomen varhaiskeskiajan lähteitä, 1989. ISBN 951-96006-1-2.
  11. ^ Letter by Pope Innocent III to the Archbishop of Lund. In Latin.
  12. ^ See Suomalaisten keskiaika - myytit ja todellisuus. Risto kari 2004. Pages 103-108. ISBN 951-0-28321-5. The book is in Finnish.
  13. ^ Bishop's original letters have not survived. See Pope's letters: [6], [7], [8], [9], [10], [11], [12]. All in Latin.
  14. ^ Complementing orders for blocking the harbours from Russian merchants were also given to a Cistercian abbot in Dünamünde and a Benedictine abbot in Lübeck.
  15. ^ Mary Most Holy: Meditating with the Early Cistercians. Ed. E. Rozanne Elder (Cistercian Publications: Kalamazoo, 2003), pp. 401, ISBN 0879071656.
  16. ^ Letter by Pope Gregory IX to the chaplain in Nousiainen. In Latin.
  17. ^ Letter by Pope Gregory IX about an uprising against the church in Tavastia. In Latin.
  18. ^ Norway and Sweden were at the brink of war from the 1230s until the Treaty of Lödöse in 1247.

  Results from FactBites:
Thomas Percy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (862 words)
Thomas Percy ( April 13, 1729 - September 30, 1811), was Bishop of Dromore, and is remembered as editor of Tatler, Guardian, and Spectator.
Thomas Percy was angered by the parody, but Hester Thrale says that he soon came to his senses and realized that Johnson was satirizing the form, and not the poem.
In 1782, Percy was ordained as the bishop of Dromore.
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