Trifon (engl. ver.)

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Trifon

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Jelena Porsanger



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Trifon (engl. ver.)

Trifon (1495–1583) is a baptiser of the Skolt Saami. He was born near Novgorod and came to the Kola peninsula in the beginning of the 16th century, settled on the shores of the Petchenga (Peäccam) river, learnt Saami and started converting the Saami to Christian faith. The greater part of the Saami in that locality converted to Christianity owing to Trifon's work. Trifon built the first church in the area, the Sacred Trinity Church of Peäccam in the 1530s, took monastic vows in 1533 and founded the first monastery in the northern part of the Kola peninsula (Petsamo monastery). In the year 1565 Trifon built the church of St Boris and St Gleb on the shore of the Paatsjoki (Paaččjokk) river. This place, called in Skolt Saami ?eeu´?es, received the Russian name Borisoglebsk from this church. The church was placed on purpose quite close to the Danish-owned areas in the north. The intention was to protect Russian Saami from the influence of Lutheran Church. Trifon was canonized in the middle of the 17th century. A hundred years later there was made a Biography of Trifon's life in Peäccam, which told about the baptizing of the Saami, the foundation of the monastery of Peäccam, the death of Trifon, and the destruction of the monastery by raiding bands in 1589. When compiling the biography of St Trifon the makers added to their presentation stories about St Trifon having worked miracles. They e.g. added a legend where Trifon has a role of a kind of a creator-hero: Once the bear had lived in the very neighbourhood of the man. But one day a bear had poured out Trifons's dough to the ground in his house. As a punishment Trifon now ordered the bear to live in the forest for ever, and at the same time he made the ears of the bear smaller. A liturgy in honour of the miracle-worker of Peäccam was formed to be used in the church service. This was the start of the St Trifon cult. His grave was declared to be a sacred place, where believers would come and do him homage. St Trifon's memory day is celebrated 15.12. Folk legends about Trifon and his missionary work live even today among the Skolt Saami. According to some narratives, his christening work was seriously opposed by those Saami who did not want to renounce their traditional religion.


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Jelena Porsanger



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