Finland

Republic in northern Europe; area, 132,642 square miles. The region was pagan until the 12th century when Christianity was introduced by Vassievolodovich, Grand Duke of Novgorod, who sent schismatic missionaries to the Karelians, and by King Erik of Sweden who undertook a crusade to Finland in 1157. Bishop Thomas (died 1248) established the first see at Räintemäkai, later transferred to Abo. In the 16th century Lutheranism was forced upon the people, and the Catholic Church was uprooted. After the country had been ceded to Russia in 1809, freedom of worship was granted and the Greek Orthodox religion encouraged. Finland gained its independence in 1917, and was proclaimed a sovereign state. Lutheranism is the national religion, but freedom of worship is granted to all. The Catholic Church is represented by the Vicariate Apostolic of Finland, founded 8 June 1920, which was elevated to the Diocese of Helsinki on 25 February 1955. See also:
New Catholic Dictionary

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