Tuusula church
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Tuusulan kirkon alttari

Tuusula church

The first church in Tuusula was built in 1643, on the site of the current war grave, and was in use for about 90 years. It was built by the people of the village. The memorial stone of the first church can be found in the western corner of the present church.

First church in Tuusula 1643-1734

Nils Larsson (Niilo Laurinpoika), hero of the Thirty Years' War and chief of the Hackapeliitta, was ennobled in 1641 as Stålhana. The master of Vanhankylä Manor is considered the originator of the establishment of the parish and municipality of Tuusula.

The Finnish-speaking peasants wanted their own chapel, to get rid of Sipoo because of the long distance to the church and the lack of services in Finnish.

In the 30-year war, Niilo Laurinpoika (Nils Larsson) from Siuntio performed a peculiar feat by sneaking into the camp of the enemy, the Germans, at night and stealing the wheellocks of all the muskets and pistols in the armoury.

The battle the next morning was won easily by the Swedes, as the other side could not fire a shot. Queen Christina rewarded Nilo with fiefs in 1626 and nobility in 1641. As a nobleman, Niilo took the surname Stålhana, which at the time meant "wheellock", and he also placed the same gadget on his coat of arms.

The horseman Nils Stålhana traded his gun for a quill and wrote numerous letters to the Bishop of Turku, Isak Rothovius, to get a chapel of his own. These letters are preserved in the archives. In addition to his energy, he had tangible arguments in favour of the chapel in the form of spoils of war: a pulpit, a chalice and a chasuble, that were to be donated to the chapel. Later donations from Stålhana include a church bell from Stockholm and the recasting of the second bell.

There are mentions in the archives of the bravery and strength of the big Nils Larsson. He is also said to have been a devout churchgoer. He took a church boat punctually every Sunday from Vanhakylä to the church on the other side of the lake and the priestly bells never rang before he had arrived to the churchyard.

The old church was located in a east-west direction on the site of the current war grave and, according to the story, resembled more a barn than a church. The church was 10 metres wide and 20 metres long.  The east end had a choir and an altar, the west end had a door. There were windows on both sides of the pulpit and the coat of arms of the Stålhana family was carved into a lead-framed panel.

The memorial stone of the old church was unveiled on the 200th anniversary of the church in 1934. It was designed by Ilmari Launis and is located on the west side of the church.

The second church: a simple cruciform church dating from 1734

The current church in Tuusula is a simple cruciform church. The origins of the cruciform style lie in Italian Renaissance architecture and the ideal of churches shaped like symmetrical crosses. The style developed further in Holland, from where it spread to Finland via Sweden in the 1600s. The cruciform was technically well suited to Finnish log construction.

Tuusula Church is one of the oldest surviving cruciform churches from the 18th century in Finland. Its original appearance was very different from the present one. The log walls were initially bare and unpainted. A small tower stood in the middle of the steep ridge of the roof. The entrance to the church was directly from the outside, as there were no vestibules. Inside, next to the doors, there were stairs leading up to lofts half the size of the ones there is today. The lower floor was filled with crude loose benches. The hall was dimly lit by small windows and chandeliers. The dimly lit ceiling was dominated by the rude timber that connected the inner corners of the cross-centre.

Pekka Halonen 1865 – 1933

Pekka Halonen has designed the color scheme of Tuusula church. He chose greenish gray, which is also the color of the Tuusula lake

Pekka Halonen was a Finnish painter and professor. He is especially known for his landscape paintings depicting winter nature and snowy forests. He has also painted altarpieces. Halonen studied in Paris under, among others, Paul Gauguin and was influenced by Japanese woodcuts.

Pekka Halonen was a prominent artist of the Golden Age of Finnish art (1880 – 1910). A community of artists was born on the shores of Tuusula lake when the writer Juhani Aho moved to the shores of the lake and gathered friends around him. The painters Eero Järnefelt and Pekka Halonen, writer and poet Juhana Heikki Erkko and composer Jean Sibelius all built a permanent home on the shores of the Tuusula lake. Great men of science, art and economics all lived close to each other. All these homes are now museums,.

Pekka Halonen had the biggest family of the artist community, eight children, four boys and four girls. His wife Maija was a skilled piano player who gave up her own career and became an artist's wife, taking care of the everyday life of the home and children. She was also linguistically gifted. Translated literature from all Nordic languages as well as Italian.

Pekka and Maija Halonen are buried in the Tuusula church park.

The coats of arms

The funerary coats of arms hanging on the walls of the choir date from the late 17th and early 18th century. By that time, the nobility was already falling from the height of its power. There was still a need of splendour, even if money was sometimes tight. They no longer could afford buying magnificently carved funerary statuary but had to settle for cheaper splendour. Wooden funerary coats of arms were dashing but inexpensive.

In the 17th century, it was customary to carry 16 small wooden coats of arms on poles for the funerary processions of noblemen. These coats of arms formed the family tree of the deceased (the coat of arms of himself, his wife, father, mother, grandparents, etc.). After the funeral, a large coat of arms was hung on the church wall with the name, rank, property, date of funeral, etc. of the deceased, in addition to the smaller ones. The larger ones still had typical praise verses of the time or quotations from the Bible etc.. As the deceased rested under the church floor, the coat of arms was his memorial. Funerary coats of arms have been preserved in numerous churches in southern and western Finland. At least Pernaja and Sauvo have a complete set of 16 coats of arms.

The coats of arms of Tuusula originally hung on the walls of the old church. They were moved to the new sanctuary when the old one was demolished in 1735.  At least the remains of Stålhana were moved to the new crypt under the new church, the others were covered up. The coats of arms hung on the wall until 1852, when they were moved to the belfry. There they lay in a pile until the early 1900s, when they were almost burned. Around the same time, museum authorities began asking for them to be better preserved. The coat of arms of the Kempenskiöld family was donated to the National Museum. In 1909, the parish decided to have the coats of arms restored and placed in the church.

The coat of arms of Stålhana

The motif of the coat of arms, the wheellock of a musket or pistol, is explained by the story from the Thirty Years’ war, which we already heard before. (text earlier here under the 1st church)

Nils Stålhana's influence during the founding phase of the congregation has given him the status of a kind of father of the congregation and the municipality. That's why the Tuusula municipal coat of arms has Stålhana's wheel lock on it. Another motif on the coat of arms is a laurel leaf, which reminds us of the artists of Tuusula.

Coats of arms on the left looking from the altar:

  • Erik Stålhana (Kotkaniemi and Vanhakylä manor) + 1693
  • Johan Stålhana (Kotkaniemi and Vanhakylä manor) +1724

Coats of arms on the right looking from the altar:

  • Captain Otto Reinhold von Berg (Anttila manor)
  • Hendrik Kuhlman (Mälkiäinen manor)

Pictures on the altar wall

J.H. Asplund's painting shows Jesus on the cross, with Virgin Mary and John on the left side of the cross and two other people on the right. At the foot of the cross is probably Mary Magdalene. In the background is the silhouette of Jerusalem. The skull at the foot of John's feet is explained by an old legend that the cross was erected on the tomb of Adam. It symbolically represents the new union between man and God after the Fall of man, through the atoning work of Christ.

Tuusula has three centers, each with its own church. Jokela church and Kellokoski church. There is a mass every Sunday in this church at 10 a.m. The church has a capacity of 460 people. The main church in Tuusula is also a road church and is open on weekdays from 12-18.