The theme of the St. Olav Ways is to promote the common European heritage represented through the legacy of St. Olav, and the legacy of the pilgrim traffic following his death and canonization.
Saint Olav’s shrine in Nidaros Cathedral has been the most important pilgrimage site in the Nordic countries since the canonization in 1031. The Norwegian Saint King retained his status as the most esteemed Nordic Saint throughout the Middle Ages.
Today, St. Olav Ways is a network of historical trails through beautiful nature, cultural landscapes and historical sites. The trails come from all directions to St. Olav’s burial place, Nidaros Cathedral, which was the northernmost pilgrimage destination for Christianity throughout the Middle Ages.
The cultural route consist of several smaller routes through Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway – all connected and leading to Trondheim, under the name St. Olav Ways. Look at our map to get an overview of the physical routes: Map of St. Olav Ways
In addition to the physical paths, the cultural route of St Olav Ways also consist of places and organisations with a thematic connection to the olav’s heritage or pilgrim tradition
Here, you can read all about the history of St. Olav – the viking king Olav Haraldsson: https://pilegrimsleden.no/en/articles/vikingkongen-og-helgenen-olav
In Nidaros, Trondheim, the pilgrimages to St. Olav’s shrine started right after his death at Stiklestad in 1030. It quickly became known that he was a holy man and in 1031 he was declared a saint. The first witness about this is a poem by Torarin Lovtunge from 1031-35. He was the bard of king Olav’s enemy, the Danish king Knut. He encouraged the king to pray for St. Olav’s intercessions and described the holy king in this way: “Thus Olav sinlessly saved his soul before his death.” Within a few years the pilgrimage to St. Olav’s shrine was so strongly consolidated that it became known far out in Europa.
When the Lutheran reformation reached Norway in 1537, pilgrimages were banned. Only in the 20th century people started again to come to Trondheim as pilgrims. Especially after the 1970 – 80s more pilgrims appeared.