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Norway victims remembered

04 August 2011

by Ed Beavan

ABOUT 270 people attended a memorial service in the Norwegian Church in south-east London for the victims of the mass murders in Oslo and Utøya island in Norway (News, 29 July).

The service, held last Friday at St Olav’s, Rotherhithe, was attended by the Suffragan Bishop in Europe, Dr David Hamid, the Acting Dean of Southwark, Canon Andrew Nunn, and the MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, Simon Hughes.

The Norwegian pastor who officiated, the Revd Torbjørn Holt, said afterwards: “We needed to do something immediate. At the service, things were still very raw, and there were very strong emotions. Repre-sen­tatives from other Nordic churches were also in attendance, and many people wanted to show their solidarity with us.”

Mr Holt has since returned to Norway, where the atmosphere in Oslo, he said, was very different from usual. “Normally Oslo is very lively in the summer, but there’s a very strange, pensive mood in the city centre. People are still laying flowers by the main cathedral. The church has been an important place for people to meet and gather and say prayers and be quiet.”

People were still coming to terms with the tragedy, he said. “Norway is a very small country, and the way this has affected the young group of the Labour party is horrendous and impossible to imagine.”

The Bishop of Nidaros, the Rt Revd Tor Singsaas, praised Nor­wegians for countering this “insane terrorism by demonstrating love and solidarity”, when he spoke at the opening of the St Olav festival in Trondheim. “We have brought out a social capital we maybe even did not know was there. We must rebuild our trust in human beings as fellow human beings.”

Another memorial service for the victims will be held in Southwark Cathedral on 23 September.

Pilgrims pray for Norway. About 50 people took part in a pilgrimage from St Helen’s, Neston, on the Wirral, to St Olave’s, Chester, paus­ing for a minute’s silence and special prayers for Norway, last Friday. The pilgrimage marked the feast day of St Olave, the patron saint of Norway. A Viking-style cross was displayed in Neston, recalling the area’s Viking heritage.

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