Dear Iceland Review,
November 16 is not only the birthday of your poet Jónas Hallgrímsson (1807-1845) but on that day, 50 years later, another great Icelander and writer was born, namely Jón Sveinsson, better known as ‘Nonni.’ This year people around the world commemorated his 155th birthday. Why did you not mention him in your Daily News? I am sure, at Nonnahús in Akureyri, Jón Sveinsson’s birthday was celebrated, too. And Gunnar F. Guðmundsson’s biography on ‘Pater Jón Sveinsson – Nonni’ was published by Opna right on time and presented at the book fair in Reykjavík this past weekend.
In Cologne, where Nonni is honored by a street and a fountain named after him: Nonniweg and Nonnibrunnen respectively, where there is a youth club called Nonni and where Jón Svensson was buried 68 years ago, there was a threefold birthday program for him: on Friday November 16, 2012. In addition, Domradio broadcast a report on Jón Sveinsson in the series Anno Domini which is now available on domradio.de/mediathek; at 4:30, there was a Nonni reading at Melaten Cemetery, organized by the radio station WDR5 (“WDR5 liest vor”) from a book by Dietmar Grieser Es ist nie zu spät. Ihr zweites Leben (‘It is never too late. Their second lives’) in which he dedicates a chapter to Jón Svensson and his second career as an author: Von Schmerzen gebeugt (‘Bent by pain’) describing how Nonni had to give up his job as a teacher and missionary in Denmark because of rheumatism, and thus became a world famous author.
Also, on Saturday, November 17, the retired bishop Klaus Dick celebrated a memorial service (see photos) for Nonni in the chapel of St. Franziskus Hospital in Cologne, where Jón Svensson passed away 68 years ago. Ten nuns and 35 of Nonni’s friends (among them the president Professor Gert Kreutzer and the chairman, Dr. Sverrir Schopka of Deutsch-Isländische Gesellschaft e.V. Köln) had gathered in his honor in that beautiful chapel where a charming picture of Nonni had been placed on a small table, together with the Icelandic flag, flowers in the colors of Iceland and two candles. A cute detail was the fact that bishop Klaus Dick, a Nonni fan since he was a boy, chose the liturgy that Jón Svensson had been used to…
I would appreciate very much if you published my letter in Iceland Review; “Nonni” definitely deserves more publicity.
Many thanks for your attention.
Friederika Priemer (Nonni admirer in Cologne (there are lots more!))