The Minister General’s trip through Scandinavia continues. After Finland and Sweden, it was Denmark’s turn for a visit. The Minister General was there February 5-7, 2024.

A small community of three friars has been living in the capital, Copenhagen, since February of 2017. This is an international community comprised of Friar Tomislav CVETKO of the Province of St. Jerome in Croatia; Friar Tomaž MAJCEN of the Province of St. Joseph in Slovenia; and Friar Stephen BEJO of the Provincial Custody of the Immaculate Conception and Bl. Bonaventure of Potenza in the Philippines.
The friary was canonically erected in 2023, and legally belongs to the Province of Croatia. The friars are living in the bishop’s palace and collaborate closely with the diocese which has entrusted them with three parishes. Two of them, the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church and the Blessed Sacrament Church are in Copenhagen. The third is in Nuuk, the capital of distant Greenland. The Diocese of Copenhagen, with its territory in Greenland, is the third largest diocese in the world.
Denmark still retains a profound Franciscan imprint. The first known Franciscan community was established in Ribe in 1232. In 1238, another presence was established in Copenhagen. However, the historically most important city is Roskilde, where the friars arrived in 1237. After a long pause caused by the Protestant Reformation, the friars returned to the city in 1993, under the supervision of the Province of Our Lady of Consolation in the USA (OLC). This occurred after the friars of Poland and Holland had established friaries and presences in the south of the country, in Maribo, Naskov, Nykøbing and Haderslev. Although all of these friaries would eventually be suppressed, including the one in Roskilde, the desire to return to Denmark was finally realized in 2011, with the present community in Copenhagen.
During his fraternal visit, the Minister General, Friar Carlos TROVARELLI, visited the friars and met with the Most Reverend Czesław KOZON, Bishop of Copenhagen, the staff of the diocese, and some faithful. It was beautiful to see the affection of the faithful, which included members of the Secular Franciscans and the Militia of the Immaculata. The short meeting took place on February 7, after Mass in the Parish Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Friar Carlos also visited the other parish church where our friars work, the Church of the Blessed Sacrament. This church has a particular devotion to St. Willehad of Denmark, an observant Franciscan who took refuge in Holland at the start of the Protestant Reformation. He was martyred in 1573, along with eighteen companions, for refusing to renounce the Catholic faith. Centuries later, a priest from Holland, who came to Denmark, aware of their devotion, decided to raise funds to build a church, stating: “I, too, must give something back to Denmark!” Thus was born the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Copenhagen, which symbolically unites Denmark and Holland, the next stage of the Minister General’s fraternal visit to northern Europe.

Friar Igor SALMIC