From Oslo to Minneapolis: Why did Norway's Queen Sonja go to church in the United States?

Norway's Queen Sonja visited a church in Minneapolis church to mark the end of her Minnesota visit
Norway's Queen Sonja visited a church in Minneapolis church to mark the end of her Minnesota visit Copyright Giovanna Dell'Orto/AP
Copyright Giovanna Dell'Orto/AP
By Theo FarrantAP
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Queen Sonja of Norway made a special visit to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church, also known as Mindekirken


Last Sunday, Queen Sonja of Norway attended a packed service at the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church in Minneapolis, marking the end of her extended visit to Minnesota.

Also known as Mindekirken, the church was founded in 1922, at the tail end of a decades-long migration of hundreds of thousands of Norwegians to Minnesota, that made the Twin Cities the “unofficial capital” of the Norwegian diaspora, according to Amy Boxrud, the director of the Norwegian-American Historical Association.

100 years of Norwegian liturgy

Giovanna Dell'Orto/AP
Queen Sonja of Norway walks down the steps after speaking at the podium at the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial ChurchGiovanna Dell'Orto/AP

Its services have since been held by descendants of Norwegian immigrants and it stands out as one of only two churches in the country which mainly uses the Norwegian language for liturgy. 

“It's very moving that we still hold service in Norwegian,” said Mindekirken council president, Jeannette Henrikssen.

“It's a testament to the determination and sheer stubbornness of those Norwegians, and the love and connection they wanted to uphold," she added. 

Queen Sonja has visited the church several times over the years, but she returned on Sunday to celebrate its 100-year anniversary. 

“It's extraordinary to realise that, one hundred years after, Mindekirken is still fulfilling that purpose” of building community and preserving culture and language, she said to the nearly 500 people in attendance.

Giovanna Dell'Orto/AP
Eline Gro Knatterud, 4, greets Queen Sonja of Norway as she arrives at the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church in MinneapolisGiovanna Dell'Orto/AP

Upon her arrival, Queen Sonja received a special greeting from a four-year-old local girl named Eline Gro Knatterud, who presented the queen with a bouquet of red roses nearly as big as herself. 

Queen Sonja got down to eye level with the awestruck girl and told her, in English, that she had an identical red traditional bunad dress at home, before walking into the large stone church. 

“We speak American English every day, but we need the language of our hearts, Norwegian when we praise God," said the church's priest during the service.

Video editor • Theo Farrant

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