Annual Mass Held in Remote North Iceland Area Skip to content

Annual Mass Held in Remote North Iceland Area

An annual mass will be held at Þönglabakki in Þorgeirsfjörður in the uninhabited area Fjörður in Northeast Iceland on Sunday. A large number of attendees are expected—last year the mass was attended by almost 200 people.


Hikers in Iceland. Archive photo by Páll Stefánsson.

Fjörður is an abandoned rural district between Eyjafjörður and Skjálfandi. The area was settled in the 9th century AD and the last farms there were abandoned in 1944. The church site for Fjörðungar, as locals were known, was at Þönglabakki.

It takes approximately one hour to drive on a 4×4 route from Grýtubakki to the bottom of Hvalvatnsfjörður and from there people must walk for an hour across a hill to Þorgeirsfjörður, Morgunblaðið reports.

Attendees of the sermon have also been taken by boat from Grenivík to Þorgeirsfjörður.

This year, the tour boat Húni, which has room for 70 people, will depart from Akureyri at 7 am, carry on from Grenivík at 10 am, and arrive in Þorgeirsfjörður at 1 pm.

In Þorgeirsfjörður, search and rescue team members will bring people ashore. The mass begins at 2 pm.

“The weather forecast is good and I expect the fjord to be smooth as a mirror. Under such conditions it is pure joy,” said Rev. Bolli Pétur Bollason of Laufásprestakall, who will lead the mass.

He stresses that the journey should be as much a part of the experience as the festivities themselves.

Among those who will reach Þorgeirsfjörður on foot, is a group of 70 Icelandic and foreign young adults, 18-25 years old, who are participating in an exchange program organized by the Akureyri church.

Rev. Bolli said that to many of the attendees, the trip to Þorgeirsfjörður is a pilgrimage, as their families came from Fjörður and many of their ancestors were buried at Þönglabakki.

The church at Þönglabakki, of which only the foundations are left, was dedicated to Ólafur Haraldsson ‘the holy’, King of Norway from 1015 to 1028. The mass of Ólafur is on July 29 and therefore the Þönglabakki sermon is always held the last Sunday in July.

The event is organized by a group of people interested in religious ceremonies at Þönglabakki and the history of Fjörðungar. The first mass they organized was held at Þönglabakki in 2008.


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