Eesti Elu
Tallinn candlelight service in 5 languages
Archived Articles 29 Dec 2008  Eesti Elu
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Every year Rootsi-Mihkli kirik (Swedish St. Michael's church) in Tallinn's Old Town hosts a special international candlelight Christmas Eve mass starting at 11 pm, conducted in five languages.


Christmas Eve Mass songsheets are printed in Swedish, Estonian, German, Finnish and English. Everyone can sing along in their own language, since the Lutheran hymns are shared by all these cultures.

Rootsi-Mihkli church is an unassuming building on Rüütli tänav, next to Niguliste church. The building has no steeple and was built as an almshouse / hospital (seek). It became the religious home of Tallinn's Swedish population following the Great Northern War (Põhjasõda) from 1700-1721, although a Swedish parish had existed in what was then known as Reval since at least 1531. During the Soviet era, Rootsi-Mihkli was used as a training hall for wrestling and weight lifting, with rows of ping-pong tables lining the second storey; hard to imagine now. Luckily its columns, vaulted ceilings and most other architectural details remained intact.

Torontonians no doubt remember õpetaja Piir, who served at St. Peter's in Toronto from 1988 to 1992. EELK Rootsi-Mihkli church hosts the above-mentioned Finnish and German EELK congregations. Matthias Burghardt also travels to Tartu Maarja church and Viljandi Pauluse church each month to conduct services in German. Swedish St. Michael's website provides information in four languages about the church and the history of Estonian Swedes (www.stmikael.ee). There is also a museum in the church basement with treasures from S:t Mikaels and S:t Olafs (Püha Olavi) church on the island of Vormsi (Ormsö in Swedish), which spent the Soviet era in safekeeping in Sweden.

 
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