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Saint Sunniva
Statue of St. Sunniva.
Died 10th century, Selje
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Feast July 8th
Patronage Diocese of Bjørgvin; Vestlandet

Saint Sunniva (10th century) is the patron saint of the Norwegian Diocese of Bjørgvin, as well as all of Western Norway. According to legend, Sunniva was the heir of an Irish kingdom, but had to flee when a heathen king, who wanted to marry her, invaded. At the Norwegian island of Selja, in the present-day municipality of Selje, she and her followers took refuge in a cave. The locals suspected the foreigners of stealing their sheep, and the ruler Håkon Jarl was sent for. Sunniva and her followers prayed to God that they should not fall into the hands of the heathens, upon which rocks fell down blocking the entrance to the cave.

Sunniva and the others died in the cave, but in the years to come miracles were reported on the island. When the Christian king Olaf Tryggvason excavated the cave in 996, the body of Sunniva was found intact. Later a Benedictine monastery, Selje Abbey, was built on the site, the ruins of which can still be seen.

During the fires in Bergen in 1170/71 and in 1198 the remains of Sunniva were taken from the Christchurch and sat down by Sandbru. This reportedly halted the advance of the fire and was hailed as a miracle

Around 1170 the story of Sunniva was written down in a Latin hagiographic work titled Acta sanctorum in Selio.



Sunniva's body was found to be incorrupt.


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