The Origin of the Stone Sacristy
Suur Savo Museum - The Origin of the Stone Sacristy
|No documents survive from which the exact age of the stone sacristy can be determined. Formerly, the stone sacristy was thought to date from the 14th century on the basis of written sources relating to the parish of Savilahti. The name Savilahti is first mentioned in 1323 in the peace treaty of Pähkinäsaari (Nöteborg, Schlusselburg). Precise knowledge of the existence of the parish dates from 1329, in a letter by Maunu Eerikinpoika. The assumption that the stone sacristy dated back to the 14th century was not challenged until the 1980s. A study by Esa Hassinen published in 1986 considered the question of when the stone sacristy was built from a quite new standpoint. The sources used by Hassinen were medieval stone church buildings. By tackling the research problem from a completely new standpoint, Hassinen came to a quite different conclusion regarding the dating of the building, moving the date much nearer to the present.
Medieval stone churches were built in south-west Finland at the turn of the 14th century. Most of the stone churches in the Häme region were built about one hundred years later. In the west, the nearest surviving medieval stone sacristy is in Padasjoki. Most of the surviving individual stone sacristies are in Häme (7). These were evidently built right at the end of the Middle Ages. If the stone sacristy in Mikkeli has connections with the corresponding buildings in Häme, then the 14th century date, when the sacristy was formerly assumed to have been built, is much too early. Indeed, it seems far more likely that the stone sacristy in Mikkeli was built in the late 15th century than in the early 14th century. In his doctoral thesis published in 1994, the researcher Markus Hiekkanen argues that the stone sacristy was built in the late 16th century.
Use of the Stone Sacristy
The sacristy was part of a church which stood on an east-west axis to the south of the sacristy. The sacristy joined the church proper at its eastern end. The altar stood at the eastern end of the church.
|The church had fallen into disrepair by the 18th century; the bishop's inspection in the early 18th century showed that the church was in need of urgent repairs. Dilapidation continued, however, and very soon the parishioners had to admit that Kellokallio church was beyond repair. A new church was built in what is now Kirkkopuisto (Church Park) and finished in 1754. The completion of the new church meant the continued dilapidation of both Kellokallio church and the stone sacristy. Kellokallio church was demolished in 1769 but the stone sacristy was left to wait for better times. There is no knowledge of when Kellokallio church was built. Could it have been the site of an earlier wooden church? Unfortunately, nothing is known about this question.
|Were the surroundings of the Stone Sacristy an ancient place of worship, a burial ground?
Indications of a prehistoric burial ground around the stone sacristy have come from a few archaeological finds. In the surroundings of the sacristy two convex brooches were found at the beginning of the last century. The convex oval brooches date from the 12th-13th centuries. The burial ground was destroyed when the road was constructed around the stone sacristy. In the same way, a great deal of the local history of the Mikkeli region has been lost.
Road construction also caused the final destruction of the Christian graves under the floor of Kellokallio church. It was the custom to bury the dead under the church floor as well as in the immediate vicinity of the church buildings. Kellokallio church was used as the graveyard of the new church that was completed in 1754.
Underneath the stone sacristy lie the earthly remains of 22 people. Most of the deceased were mummified. Fifteen of the deceased were children. Inscriptions on the coffins made it possible to identify some of the deceased, e.g. Captain Carl Fredrick Jägerhorn, who was born in 1722 and died in 1773, and his daughter, who was born in 1752. Captain Jägerhorn was the owner of the government estate at Visulahti. All of the people buried under the stone sacristy are from the 18th century. The graveyard around the stone sacristy was about 100 m in diameter. The people buried under the floor of the sacristy gradually became an attraction that people could go to see at the beginning of the last century for a one markka entrance fee. This naturally caused irritation, but not until 1930 was the floor sealed with concrete. After that the deceased have been allowed to rest in peace. By that time the bodies left under the concrete floor were badly decayed, for in 1923 the floor had been repaired but the ventilation of the space beneath the floor had been neglected, owing to which the bodies rotted away.
Mikkeli's first building preservation dispute
The building as a museum
The religious punishment of dishonouring was removed on 15.5.1848 by imperial decree. This punishment had come into being during the orthodoxy of the 16th-17th centuries. The punishment of dishonouring was inflicted on sinners by, e.g. confining them in stocks or making them sit on a stool of repentance ('black stool'). Those who received this punishment were usually sentenced for committing immoral acts. Women were made to sit on the stool of repentance for adultery and the male punishment was the stocks.
Churching took place on the churching stool, the 'grey stool'. After childbirth a woman was unclean and could not take part in the church service until she had been churched. This took place six weeks after childbirth.
Other articles on display include an usher's rod, which was used for waking sleeping parishioners, collection bags, sconces, chandeliers etc.