A Catholic bishop of Slovak origin, Capuchin Dávid Bartimej Tencer, consecrated a unique wooden church in the Icelandic town of Reydarfjordur on June 17.
Because wood is scarce on the rocky, volcanic island, the church was made in the Slovak town of Hriňová (Banská Bystrica Region) using wood from the Podpol’anie region.
After its construction in Slovakia, the church was dismantled and transported to Iceland, where it could be easily reassembled.
“You will not find a single house or church of this type in Iceland” Tencer said. The 12-metre tall wooden church is in the shape of the St Damian Crucifix.
Tencer, despite his nationality, is the bishop of Reykjavík and the top representative of the Catholic Church in Iceland. The local parish in Reydarfjördur is administered by a community of three Capuchin brothers from Slovakia led by Peter Kováčik.
Iceland is mostly an Evangelical country; out of about 350,000 Icelanders, Catholics make up about 13,500.
“The Catholic community is not very big and in this rests its charm,” said Tencer. “I know many of its members in person.”
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, Foreign and Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák and Finance Minister Peter Kažimír also attended the ceremony.
“We had a very strong reason to stay here an extra day after Friday’s (June 16) working meeting with Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson,” said Fico following the consecration ceremony as cited by the TASR newswire. “This reason is a Slovak bishop who has been working in Iceland, ministering to local Catholics.”
In Fico’s words, he has made enormous efforts to build a wooden church for a small Catholic community that represents around 3.5-4 percent of the Icelandic population.
“Following communications with the bishop, we’ve managed to help somewhat via the Slovak Catholic Church,” said Fico. “So, I’m happy that a piece of Slovakia from Hriňová, and the bishop, who is also from Slovakia, are representing our country in Iceland”.