The Church of the Faroe Islands
) is the national church
of the Faroe Islands
and the smallest of the world's few remaining state churches
. About 85% of the Faroese people
belong to the state church. Other churches on the Faroe Islands include the Plymouth Brethren
and Roman Catholics
According to the Færeyinga saga, it was the Viking chief Sigmundur Brestisson, who brought Christianity to the Faroe Islands. On the orders of the Norwegian King Olav Trygvason, Sigmundur forced the island people to convert to Christianity in 999 AD. Resistance to the new religion, led by the notorious Tróndur í Gøtu, was quickly suppressed; and even though Sigmundur himself lost his life, Christianity gained a foothold.
In 1540 the last Catholic bishop in the Faroe Islands was removed from his position, signifying the reformation of Faroese religion and the introduction of Lutheranism.
In 1990 the Faroe Islands became an independent diocese with its own bishop within the Church of Denmark and on the 29th July 29 2007, the Faroese Church became totally independent of the Church of Denmark.
Sigmundur Brestisson (961 – 1005) was the first Faroe-man to convert to the Christian faith, bringing Christianity to the Faroes at the decree of Olaf Tryggvason. He is one of the main characters of the Færeyinga saga.
According to the Færeyinga saga, emigrants who left Norway to escape the tyranny of Harald I of Norway, settled in the islands about the beginning of the 9th century. Early in the 11th century, Sigmundur, whose family had flourished in the southern islands but had been almost exterminated by invaders from the north, was sent back to the Faroe Islands, whence he had escaped, to take possession of the islands for Olaf Tryggvason, king of Norway.
At first Sigmundur tried to Christianize the Faroe Islanders, on decree of the Norwegian king, by bringing the order to the Alting in Tórshavn, but was nearly killed by the angry mob. He then changed his tactics, went with armed men to the residences of the chieftain Tróndur í Gøtu, broke in his house by night and gave him the choice between Christianity or beheading. That worked.
According to tradition, his gravestone is located in the so-called Sigmundarsteinur in Skúvoy. It bears a carved cross and was part of the old church.