The story of how Christianity arrived in Iceland, according to Nordic lore, reads like a scene ripped from “Game of Thrones.” A millennium ago, Christianity had just taken over Norway. So the Norwegian king dispatched a mighty warrior missionary named Thangbrand to Iceland to spread the good news. Thangbrand did, along the way spearing dead a great many heathens. Then came a test that would decide whether the icy island would accept Christianity or stay faithful to Thor and the other Norse gods.
Thangbrand had discovered an Icelandic beast impervious to fire. So, he said, “we shall light three fires. I shall bless the first one, you heathens shall bless the second one, and the third one shall remain without a blessing. If [he] walks through your fire unharmed but is afraid of my fire, you must accept Christianity.” The beast galloped through the heathen fire — but reared before the Christian one.
That was in the year 1000. And from that day on, according to Icelandic texts translated by the University of Pittsburgh, Iceland was a Christian nation.
But now the old Norse gods have once again emerged from the clouds to claim a people once theirs. For the first time in more than 10 centuries, thousands of Icelanders soon will be able to worship Thor, Odin, Frigg and others at a temple on which construction begins this month. Not since the collapse of the Viking age has anyone overtly worshiped at the altar of a Norse god in Iceland, which banned such displays of reverence at the rise of Christianity.
To read the rest of this Washington Post article please click on this link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/02/03/how-thousands-of-icelanders-started-worshiping-the-norse-gods-again/?utm_term=.1554bf3364f9
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