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Oddi church

Oddi at Rangárvellir is a historic church site, farm and vicarage. In earlier times, Oddi was one of the most important seats of chieftains and education, with Snorri Sturluson being one notable figure who grew up there.

Oddi stands quite far down in the Rangárvellir region, just between Ytri- and Eystri-Rangá, with the river Þverá flowing just below Oddatorfa. Oddi was a major farm for a number of centuries and was blessed with rich pastures. The farm controlled numerous smallholdings and had enormous influence.

One of the more famous pastors who served at Oddi was poet Matthías Jochumsson, author of Iceland’s National Anthem, whose poetry includes glowing descriptions of the surrounding landscape.

It is believed that a church has stood at Oddi since Icelanders first adopted the Christian faith. The current church is a timber church from 1924 and seats around 100. The church was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, the State Architect of Iceland. The church was renovated, painted and decorated in 1953 by Gréta and Jón Björnsson and re-consecrated the same year.

Among the most important items owned by the church are a silver chalice believed to be from around 1300, an altarpiece from 1895 showing Christ in the garden of Gethsemane and a baptismal font carved and painted by carpenter Ámundi Jónsson.

During the Commonwealth Era, Oddi was the ancestral home of the Oddverjar clan, one of the most powerful family clans of the period. The most famous member of the family was Sæmundur the Learned Sigfússon. Sæmundur the Learned studied at the Black School (the Sorbonne) in Paris. He was probably one of the first Icelandic historians to write a history of the Kings of Norway, although the manuscript is now lost. The grandson of Sæmundur the Learned was Jón Loftsson, who was one of the most powerful chieftains in Iceland and was, moreover, one of the most respected of them all, the most peaceful and beloved. Jón fostered Snorri Sturluson and educated him.

Six pastors serving in Oddi have become the Bishop of Iceland: Ólafur Rögnvaldsson, Björn Þorleifsson, Ólafur Gíslason, Árni Þórarinsson, Steingrímur Jónsson and Helgi G. Thordarsen.

The Oddi Association (Oddafélagið) was established in 1990. One of the main objectives of the Association is to re-establish the seat of learning at Oddi in Rangárvellir. Members currently number 200, and the patron of the Association is Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, the former President of Iceland. The Association holds the Oddastefna (Oddi conference) each year, where numerous lectures are given on the importance and history of Oddi.

The current pastor of Oddi is Elína Hrund Kristjánsdóttir.

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