Laurentius Petri

From Academic Kids

Laurentius Petri Nericus (Örebro 1499October 27, 1573), originally Lars Persson, was a Swedish clergyman and the first Evangelical Lutheran Archbishop of Sweden. He and his brother Olaus Petri are, together with the King Gustav Vasa, regarded as the main protestant reformers of Sweden.


Early life

His nickname Nericus is derived from the province where he was born, Närke. It is mainly used to distinguish him from his predecessor as archbishop Laurentius Petri Gothus.

Laurentius studied in Germany in 1520, possibly together with his brother. Here they took influence from Lutheranism, among other things they met with Martin Luther himself. On returning home to Stockholm, they got stranded and nearly lost their lives as the boat went ashore on the island Gotland. They both survived however, and settled on the island, and Laurentius became headmaster at a school while Olaus became assistant to a priest. Not so long after, Olaus travelled with the priest to Stockholm and the crowning of King Gustav Vasa. Subsequently he managed to get on friendly terms with the King, and soon moved to Stockholm where he worked in the vincinity of the King.


At the Uppsala Council 1531, the Swedish King Gustav Vasa took the final step in officially proclaiming Sweden Protestantic. A major reason was the teachings of Olaus Petri. At the Counsil, the King selected Laurentius to be archbishop, without asking the cathedral chapter as required. On September 22 that year, Laurentius was consecrated archbishop by the Bishop of Västerås Petrus Magni. Magni had himself been ordained by the Pope in Rome, the last bishop to have been so, and by consecrating Laurentius the apostolical succession was retained in Sweden, which was held to be of significance.

After becoming archbishop, Laurentius got married, and thus became the first Swedish archbishop to be married. His brother Olaus, who was a priest, had in 1525 gotten married, and became the first priest in Sweden to be so. Clericals should not marry, according to the Catholic request of Clerical celibacy, issued in 1240.

The King made sure that Laurentius did not get too much power. He forbade him to interfere with the King's ideas of the reformation. After being consecrated Archbishop in 1531, Petri promoted a moderate reformation and defended the autonomy of the Church of Sweden against attempts to make it subject to Royal Authority. His main contribution were his abundant writings which lay the foundation for the Swedish Church Statute established at the Uppsala Council 1571. It was on Laurentius's theology that the Swedish Church was built, a theology which in much was influenced by Melanchton.

He was archbishop for 42 years, unparallelled in Sweden, and during his time he was often in conflicts with the royalties. In 1539 his brother Olaus was sentenced to death by the King over some arguments, and Laurentius was among those forced to sign the death sentence. It has been disputed whether Laurentius was doing this because of a weak character or if he thought it better to formally obey so that he could continue to spread the reformation ideas. Olaus did eventually get pardoned in 1542, much due to his influential friends, but he was forced to keep a low profile. In effect, Laurentius solely took the part as main proponent of the Lutheran reformation.


The first complete Swedish translation of the Bible was published in 1541, nicknamed the Vasa Bible after the King. Laurentius was one of the main proponents supervising the project, together with his brother Olaus and Laurentius Andreae, another cleric person in the vincinity of the King.

In the 1560's, the ideas of Calvin gained in influence, and Laurentius published several texts wherein he defends the Lutheran standpoints, among them Luther's standpoints on free will. It has been suggested that it was the first time the Swedish Church showed itself as truly Lutheran; eventhough the Lutheran revolt occurred in 1531, it did not produce any statute and the issue was left unresolved for 40 years, mainly because of disagreements between the Church and the royalties.

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sv:Laurentius Petri


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