Deacon Anders Hamberg being ordained by Bishop Teemu Sippo at Saint Henry's Cathedral in Helsinki (Photo courtesy of Saint Henry's Cathedral: henrik.katolinen.fi)
the recent positive developments of Catholicism in the Northern
countries, Deacon Anders Hamberg was ordained a priest on Saturday, June
7th, as only the sixth Finnish-born Catholic priest since the
Reformation. The ordination took place in Saint Henry’s Cathedral in
Helsinki, in both Swedish, the mother tongue of Fr. Hamberg, and Latin,
and was celebrated by the Bishop of Helsinki, Msgr. Teemu Sippo S.C.I.
Father Hamberg had been ordained a deacon by Bishop Sippo on September
28, 2013, again in Saint Henry's Cathedral.
I was well aware of
this and other developments in Finnish Catholicism, including the
opening of its first Catholic church last May in Kuopio, the capital of the Savo
region in central Finland. But what I was not aware of until
recently was that the newly ordained priest, Father Hamberg, would
celebrate his first Mass on the day following his ordination, June 8, Pentecost Sunday, in the old riteas a Missa Cantata
according to the Missale Romanum of 1962. And that celebration also
took place in the cathedral in Helsinki, with the blessing of Bishop
Sippo. A Mass in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite is already celebrated in the
cathedral at least once a month, whenever a priest is available.
ought to be kept in mind that this celebration is a direct result of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, which in 2007 liberalized the celebration of the old Latin rite (that traditional
liturgy being called a “treasure for the Church” by Pope Francis), as well as his decision to establish in 2008 a
personal parish church in Rome specifically for the
tradition-minded community in the Eternal City. This church, Santissima Trinita dei Pellegrini
(Most Holy Trinity of Pilgrims), is operated by the Fraternity of St.
Peter (FSSP). It is located in the old city center right across the
Tiber in an area facing the world-renowned ancient district of Trastevere
(lit. “across the Tiber”), and was originally inspired, built, and
directed by St. Philip Neri to accommodate the pilgrims flocking to the
If its specific mission was to “bring back
the faithful to a real and zealous practice of the faith through
liturgy, processions, devotions,” as it says on the church's website, then it remains all the more
relevant today under the aegis of the FSSP, which seeks to revive those
practices which have fallen into oblivion and/or were all too hastily
sidelined, the old rite in Latin first and foremost.
Thus the ordination of June 7 and the subsequent celebration of Father Hamberg’s first Mass on June 8 may well be seen as a fruit of this mission. In fact, a few years ago I
met for the first time Anders Hamberg, when he was studying in Rome as a
seminarian, during a function at the nearby Casa di Santa Brigida, the headquarters of the Bridgettine Order. On that occasion, I was stunned to hear from the seminarian that he used to go to the church of Santissima Trinita dei Pellegrini
on Sundays, as I did. But we hadn't met before for the simple reason that we
were going to different Masses.
fact that Father Hamberg’s mother tongue is Swedish is a further asset, in
the sense that this puts him in the position to cater to the spiritual
needs of both the Finnish and Swedish-speaking communities. In fact
it already seems that he will continue to give pastoral and liturgical
care to both of these groups in the Diocese of Helsinki.
his most immediate commitment was to co-ordinate the yearly traditional
summer pilgrimage to Köyliö on June 15. Köyliö is a small island in a
lake in south-western Finland and the place where, according to
tradition, Saint Henry, the patron saint of Helsinki cathedral, the
diocese, and all of Finland, was martyred around the middle of the
Fr. Anders Hamberg reading the Gospel (Photo courtesy of Saint Henry's Cathedral: henrik.katolinen.fi)