The Church of Lempäälä

The St Birgit Memorial Church of Lempäälä, built in the early 16th century, is dedicated in memory of St Birgit.

Situated on the bordering area between the historic districts of Satakunta and Häme, the architectural style of the church exhibits certain influences from both of these areas. The shapes of the nave, rich in decoration, are typical of Satakunta, whereas the large, protruding cornerstones are unique to a very few number of churches in Häme.

Church modifications and renovations

Throughout the centuries, the church has undergone a number of changes and modifications. The most significant change to the exterior of the church was carried out during the 1830's, when the church was expanded to its current cross church form. The four-leaf clover windows were also included in every spike of the cross at this time. Large-scale interior renovations were carried out in 1895 (architect Berndt Blom) and during the 1920's (architect Ilmari Launis).

The last of the major renovations (architect Eila Piironen-Havas) was completed in 1984. During autumn 2003 the church lighting was improved and the old chandeliers were returned to their original places on top of the central aisle. The chandeliers have been received as donations by the church in various times.

Objects

The only medieval object in the St Birgit Memorial Church that has been preserved to this day is the crucifix above the altar, which is said to have been acquired for the consecration of the church in the early 16th century. An old four-piece altarpiece, depicting the Lord's Supper, Christ in Getsemane, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection of Christ, hangs on the sacristy-side wall of the northern spike. The pictures have been painted in the mid-18th century by the renowned painter Johan Georg Geitell of Turku. The altarpieces – painted by Kaarlo Enqvist-Atra of Lempäälä, and donated to the church in 1902 – represent a more recent era in history.

The most prominent memorabilia from past generations is the group of four burial coats of arms in the western wing of the church. The upper left coat of arms belongs to Erik Pistolhjelm (died 1669), the lower left coat of arms belongs to Johan Spofvenhjelm (died 1705), and on the right side of the door are the coats of arms belonging to Anders Rundell (died 1690) and Mårten Segercrantz (died 1758).

A memorial plaque, situated on the landing of the stairs leading to the organ gallery, describes the initiative presented by peasants of Lempäälä and the neighbouring areas to the emperor of Russia to confirm Finnish as an official language in the grand duchy of Finland. The personal signatures of the peasants surround the plaque.

The pulpit was built in 1839 and is of neo-gothic style.

The stencilled paintings on the ceiling vaults and arches are reproductions of the fragments of paintings revealed during the replacement of ceiling boards. A fraction of an ornamental painting of a plant motif is preserved on the doorpost of the sacristy. The ornamental paintings are believed to originate from the early 17th century.

The new 31-stop organ was manufactured in 1987 by organ maker Veikko Virtanen.

Events

Service starts at 10 am every Sunday and on religious holidays, and events such as weddings, funerals, devotional services and concerts are also held at the church. The church can fit some 650 people.

Opening hours

The church is open from the second week of June until the end of July on weekdays from 10 am to 4 pm: opening hours can be extended upon request.

Bell tower

The bell tower situated at the southern end of the church square was originally built by master builder Mikko Lajander of Tyrvää in 1787.

The bell tower has, however, undergone a number of changes during various renovations. The latest renovation was carried out in 1967 according to plans made by architect Seppo Rihlama.

St Birgit

The Church of Lempäälä is dedicated in memory of St Birgit. Birgit, daughter of Birger, died in Rome in 1373 and was proclaimed a saint on 7 October 1391. In 1999 she was appointed patron saint of Europe. She was the most renowned religious and political figure in Scandinavia of her time. Her reputation was based on revelations, which she began having already in her youth.