Today I learned that Leif Eriksson spread Christianity to Greenland.
On a trip to Norway, King Olaf of Norway invited Leif to be in his court and bodyguard. According to HyperHistory.net:
“He required members of his bodyguard to be Christians as well, and so was able to convert Leif to Christianity. He then commissioned Leif to spread Christianity throughout Greenland. Leif returned and spread his new faith around the country with the priest that King Olaf sent with him.”
His father, Erik the Red, wouldn’t convert and tried to stop Leif from spreading Christianity. Erik the Red’s wife, however, did convert.
Here are some other interesting facts about Leif Eriksson:
In Chicago, there is a statue of Leif Eriksson (see my photos below). It was built in the early 1900’s by Sigvald Asbjornsen and was paid for by the Norwegian community. The statue was built on top of a big boulder and has the words, “Leif Eriksson Discoverer of America.” However, if you visit the statue today the words are barely visible.
In 1927, the Chicago Norwegian community was upset that the textbooks in the schools taught that Christopher Columbus discovered America. One person said that it was “teacing un-Americanism.” Then Chicago Mayor William Hale Thompson never resolved this problem and was instead worried about King George of England.
Proof that Leif Eriksson really did discover America was found years later. See my blog post from yesterday.
Italian Americans in Chicago were very careful to avoid saying that Columbus discovered America In a 2011 press release promoting the Columbus Day Parade saying, “The Columbus Day Parade celebrates Christopher Columbus and his monumental voyage which was first acknowledged in Illinois in 1963 when it became a legal holiday in the state.”
Leif Eriksson was the first European to visit America, but Christopher Columbus’ visit here changed the course of history.
For kids: There are coloring pages and activity books available on Leif Eriksson and Norway. There is a Viking girl coloring page shown here and a Viking boy coloring page shown here. There is also a Norway activity book here.