The present Church of Rovaniemi was completed in 1950. The former church, a wooden church built in 1817, was burnt down by German soldiers on October 16th, 1944 during WWII. The new church is situated on the same place where the former church stood. The construction of a new church so soon after the Second World War would scarcely have been possible without major financial help from the Lutheran churches in the United States and Sweden It is considered a landmark of post-war construction in Rovaniemi.
On the church yard nearby there are memorials from church buildings on the same place from 1632 and 1688, too.
The Church was designed by architect Bertel Liljequist (1885-1954). He is known for designing several churches in Finland. The walls of Rovaniemi church are made of bricks and the roof is copper. On top of the roof of the tower there is a red, glowing cross you can see from a distance from the church. There are seats for 850 people in the church.
The 14 metre-high fresco painting “Fountain of Life” on the altar wall was painted by professor Lennart Segerstråle (1892-1975) in 1951. Lennart Segerstråle was known for painting several frescos to churches. The fresco “Fountain of Life” is a huge painting, it dominates the choir wall. The painting is showing life from birth to death and it pictures also different natures of human beings; the evils and the good-hearted. I like to sit and just admire the fresco painting, an I always find something new I have not seen before. It took Lennart Segerstråle and his co-workers four months to finish the fresco.
Other glass works and sculptures in the church are made of Antti Salmenlinna (1897-1968) and Gunnar Uotila (1913-1997). Gunnar Uotila was a wood sculptor and his sculpture in Rovaniemi church is a Lappish swan feeding its nestlings. It is a symbol of how God takes care of us; his disciples.
The cemetery is beside the Church. 605 of the fallen of the WWII from the Parish of Rovaniemi are resting in peace there. The monument for war heroes was designed by Professor Wäinö Aaltonen, dedicated to those sacrificed in the war.
At the far end of the cemetery there is a monument commemorating those who died and were buried in Sweden during the evacuation of the civilian population. 20.000 people were evacuated from Rovaniemi to Sweden in autumn 1944. The memorial was designed by Ensio Seppänen. You can read more about the memorials in former texts here in my blog about memorials in Rovaniemi. You can also follow the links above.