"The flood of fire flowed with the speed of a great river swollen with meltwater on a spring day"
March 11, 2009 4:38 PM Subscribe
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing (25 comments total)
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On June 8, 1783, the volcano Laki in south Iceland tore open a 16-mile fissure that erupted over nine cubic miles of lava
. Not only would this eruption kill over 50% of Iceland's livestock population, leading to famine which killed approximately 25% of the population
; its effects were felt the world over, with flourine, sulfur dioxide, ash, sand and drastically cooled tempertaures from the blotted-out sun reaching as far afield as North America and Africa
. The eruption lasted for nearly eight months. And from the day the eruption began, a humble priest named Jón Steingrímsson would make his mark in history.
Steingrímsson - known now as the "Fire Priest" - not only witnessed the Laki eruption, he stayed with his parishioners
, distributing food and money even as thick ash clouds created perpetual darkness and a winter that lasted nearly a year. Despite losing his wife and many of those close to him, he recorded the events of the Laki eruption in the eloquently written book Fires of the Earth
. But what Steingrímsson is best known for is his "fire mass
" (web page in Icelandic) - a sermon he delivered after all the townspeople of Kirkjubæjarklaustur were assembled in the church, a giant wall of lava approaching. The sermon was brief, but was said to have been delivered with great passion. At its conclusion, the lava had changed course, sparing the townspeople. Here is Jón Steingrímsson's sermon, translated with the help of our own Kattullus:
Let us pray to God in correct piety, that He in His grace will not want destroy us in haste. Each and every one pray without fear. Each and every one be ready to die if it pleases Him. Not in ours, but Your name do we praise glory. Some make ungodly speech, bluster and act badly but even they will be humble and persevering. To one God is the honor! Call to God and suffer patiently what He lays on us. God does all things well and nothing unjustly. He knows better than men what is good for them. Give unto God the glory, and praise His highest name.