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Lalli

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Lalli (died c. 1157). According to medieval tradition, Lalli was the name of the Köyliö peasant who murdered Finland’s first bishop and patron saint, St. Henry. According to legend, he put the death bishop’s mitre on his head, but when he later took it off, his hair and scalp came with it. In the medieval period and for a long time afterward, Lalli represented paganism and St. Henry the victory of Christianity. The figure of Lalli is often used in medieval art, shown lying submissively at St. Henry’s feet, scalpless.

Subsequently, Lalli’s formerly completely negative image has received new overtones. Lalli has been regarded as symbolizing the independence and stubbornness of ordinary Finnish people, and their unwillingness to submit to authority. Anti-clericalism, resistance to church and religion, has also been associated with Lalli. Lalli still appears as a man’s name, although it is rare and is not included in the calendar of name-days.


Jussi Nuorteva, Scholar of old literature, science journalist, from “Finland, a Cultural Encyclopedia”, by Finnish Literature Society

June Pelo 1998


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