Saint Olav – King of Norway

by Father Olav Müller SSCC

translated from Norwegian by Father Brian McNeil CRV

This text is taken from a booklet printed in 1993 and reproduced with the permission of the original publisher Maximilian. A printed copy can be ordered on-line on the publisher's web site.


Saint Olav It is not easy to describe Olav Haraldsson, the person and the saint. With few exceptions, the written sources dealing with his life are about two hundred years later than his own period. Nor can we always trust them fully. We should not be surprised, therefore, when authors who have attempted to describe Olav the man have arrived at widely differing results. For some he is a brutal psychopath - for others, a bloodless saint like an angel - for still others, a genius as a military leader and a capable king who makes use of Christianity to further his political goals. Here it is a question of which eye is looking at Olav.

More than historical knowledge is required, if we are to get to the bottom of St Olav 's personality. It is equally important that the biographer is able and willing to be on the same wavelength as King Olav 's period. The best description of Olav 's conversion and life as a Christian will be given by the one who himself has taken the path of blood from pagan wildness to a life that come close to corresponding to «White Christ's» will.

The author of this book has had a relationship to Olav Digre since he was a child. When I pray my evening prayers, I always ask St. Olav to intercede for Norway and its people. Because of the limitations of length here, I do no more than describe the King's life, death and canonisation. Much has been written about the significance St Olav took on for Norwegian history in the period after his death, up to the present day. Opinions are less divergent here. But it is pointless to describe the radiant influence of the holy king, exalted over the earth, unless one knows the very earthly Olav Digre.

Olav Müller SSCC

Kart-Vikingtiden.gifImage: Map of Norway during the Viking period, c. 790-c.1050. Approximate population figure: 120 000.


I. Olav's Childhood
II. Olav the Viking
III. As a guest of duke Richard II in Normandy
IV. Olav Haraldsson and Charlemagne
V. Olav Haraldsson returns to a divided Norway
VI. Olav Haraldsson is accepted as king in Norway
VII. Olav and the work of Christianisation
VIII. Canute the mighty conquers Norway
IX. The man Olav
X. King Olav in Gardarike
XI. Martyrdom
XII. The Canonisation
av Webmaster publisert 31.03.2006, sist endret 04.10.2013 - 13:58