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Kuusamo church and vicarage on the shore of Lake Kuusamojärvi

”The Kuusamo parish exists, so that we can proclaim gospel and distribute sacraments.

God is still among his people. ”

Taina Manninen, The Vicar of Kuusamo parish


The surrounding society has changed; and so has the congregation been reformed. The basic mission of the congregation is and will remain.

A journey from a rigid administrative unit into a parishioner’s companion on the life’s road has had multiple phases. The congregation is living and breathing today, without forgetting its roots.

People’s need to encounter God and the desire to experience holiness has survived for centuries. A continuation of traditions can be seen in our everyday life – in objects, textiles, texts and in manners.


Dear congregation,

In my memories the first contact to my home church happened through the day care visits.

When I was 6 years old, I participated the children´s club arranged by the church. I was incredibly proud when I was able to read the text from the ambo to the entire congregation.

That, perhaps, was the moment which gave me the spark of thought that this was nice and this is what I would like to do.


The Confirmation school was a meaningful experience for me and I wanted definitely to become a young confirmed volunteer.

All the youth work counselors became important to me. They were the adults who walked alongside us youngsters. They also gave us responsibility and opportunities to grow.

The group became tighter every year and I am still in contact with them.

As an 18-year old high school student I was thinking about the future and my study options. It occurred to me: why not apply to study at DIAK University of Applied Sciences to become a youth work supervisor or

to study theology to become a priest.

When I moved to my place of study, I packed in my pocket the encouragement and support of the familiar employees. During my studies I worked in Kuusamo Parish for one summer. After graduating I did a short temp job there as a youth work supervisor. I also visited the employees when I stayed at home during the holidays. I always felt welcome and my old home church felt like home.


While I’ve lived elsewhere for 15 years, I still think of Kuusamo’s church as my home church and Kuusamo parish as my home parish. I don’t feel the same sense of peace anywhere else like in the Church of the Holy Cross and that’s what I want to cherish by visiting it regularly. I follow you on Instagram and I think of you with warmth and prayers. It is very much thanks to you that I am in the job where I am now.

I hope all the best for you and the strength and the blessing of the Father in Heaven.

Best regards Sanna

Sanna Ylitolonen, former surname Ronkainen

Youth work supervisor, Espoo cathedral parish


Church of the Holy Cross in Kuusamo.

PHOTO Kaisa Määtä


Table No. 2


The old Kuusamo Cross Church with the belfry at the turn of the 1800s and 1900s.

The church was located on the site of the current Kuusamo Holy Cross Church on the shore of Lake Kuusamojärvi.



Picture archive of Kuusamo parish


Carl XI, King of Sweden, gave an order to the bishop of Turku on the 21st of June, 1673, to constitute The Parish of Kemi Lapland.


This large parish was formed from the Kuusamo Saami villages Kitka and Maaselkä as well as the villages of Inari, Keminkylä, Kittilä, Kuolajärvi, Sodankylä and Sompio.


Twelve years after the parish was implemented in Kuusamo, there was a dean’s inspection.

It revealed that there were 34 families and 194 people altogether living in the area.

During the same winter the parishioners promised to get the logs for the construction of the church.

The first log chapel was built on the shore of Lake Torankijärvi about 2 km south of the present church.


The congregation was called Kuusamo Lapland parish, according to its central location.


Pulpit and churches

Log chapel in 1689 on the shore of Lake Torankijärvi

New church in 1694, the first church in the current location

Cross Church in 1804

Paanajärvi church in 1937, destroyed in the Winter war in 1939

Barrack church in 1946, to replace the church destroyed in the war

The current church in Kuusamo from 1951

In 1986 the current church dedicated as the Church of the Holy Cross in Kuusamo

Käylä border region church in 1958


Paanajärvi border region church was completed in 1936 and was inaugurated in 1937.

PHOTO Kinnunen’s photo archive


You can familiarize yourself with the miniature model of the Cross Church in Kuusamo

on the parish history screen. Read more about the parish’s history via QR code.


The Rooster of the First Church

According to the tradition, the rooster-shaped wind vane was completed in 1694 on the roof of the log chapel, the first Kuusamo church. The wind vane is wrought iron and tarred.

The rooster symbolizes Christ’s call to the spiritual living as a Christian.


The rooster of the Kuusamo church disappeared in the 18th century, when the symbols of the churches were changed.

The cross was raised to replace the rooster.

The more than 300-year-old rooster was found later from Kurtinvaara village in Kuusamo, from a courtyard building.


Table No. 3


Treasures returned from evacuation trips

The first church received several brass candle sconces in 1694 as a donation.

The candles in the lamps brought light to the darkness of the church hall. The lamps were evacuated

from the church in the fall of 1944 before the fire.

The original sconces have illuminated each church in Kuusamo town centre. They are still in use at the Church of the Holy Cross and candles are lit in the sconces on every Christmas and Easter night.


The communion chalk that is still in weekly use at the Church of the Holy Cross nowadays, is 203 years old. The communion chalice, or chalice, is used in Mass where the parishioners are invited to receive communion. The bowl was modified in 1938 by shaping an easy-to-use pouring spout into it.

In the same year the parish received textiles and silverware as a donation.

Glass communion cups were packed along at a last-minute to take for an evacuation trip. Other valuable chattels and goods were packed in wooden boxes and were lifted onto the truck as well. The address label read: Kuusamo parish, Oulainen parsonage.


The valuable goblets were in use in Käylä, in the border region church until the 21st century, after the goblets were returned from the evacuation region at Oulainen after the war.


In the fall of 1944, when they returned from Oulainen, the Kuusamo people found the Cross Church destroyed. But thanks to the evacuation, the altarpiece and artefacts were saved. Theyare still in use in the current Church of The Holy Cross of Kuusamo.

The church bells were buried in the church yard.

PHOTO Wesa Rinne’s photo archive



The tower of the Church of the Holy Cross in Kuusamo was built in 1949.

PHOTO Kinnunen photo archive


Info text

You can learn about the story of church bells on the history wall of the Kuusamo parish.



PHOTO Kaisa Määttä


Paavo Herman Juusonpoika (the son of Juuso) Majava was with his wife Briitta Stiina in America.

No wonder that there are no notes on literacy accumulated in church records in Kuusamo.



Page from the church register of Kuusamo parish from the years from 1895 to 1903. The book recorded one’s mother tongue, reading and writing skills, visits to the Lord’s Holy Supper and other important remarks e.g. for health, military service or regarding marital status.


PHOTO Kaisa Määttä



In the pages of church books

The Church Act of 1686 required literacy from everyone who wanted to get married. The parishioners were questioned about their knowledge of catechism in the so-called inquiry devotions.

Literacy spread among the common people in the 18th century, when the church organized teaching for parishioners. Literacy was recorded in the church records as well as all the important information of a person was recorded.

The impressive sized (33 x 46 cm) church books are kept in the vicar’s office. A parishioner can have her/his own information from the church books from a so called family page.



Lauri Konstantin Eerola, the vicar 1919–1949

Supporting Sunday school work and teaching good manners for parishioners were a matter of heart for Lauri Eerola.

In his point of view, parishioners of all ages received teaching. Eerola was often seen fishing at Lake Torankijärvi. Fishing rights were considered as a part of the vicar’s salary. Many Kuusamo families remember that vicar Eerola reorganized the family names.

Lauri Eerola served as parish priest until his death.



Raimo Antero Karvonen, the vicar 1978–2007

Raimo Karvonen was elected as the vicar of Kuusamo in 1978. The election turn-out was record high, when over half of the parishioners entitled to vote turned out to vote. Father Raimo, nickname Rape, as many parishioners called him, was a warm-hearted and wise shepherd of souls. Dean Karvonen is known throughout Finland for developing liturgical life of the whole church.

He has been widely involved in preparing the current church handbook. Raimo Karvonen was awarded the Pro Ecclesia medal in 2022 for his merits at the level of the whole church.


Vicars of Kuusamo Church


Gabriel Tuderus (virassa 1675–1684)

Henricus Cajanus (1684–1691)

Samuel Julenius (1692–1699)

Sigfrid Bonelius (1701–1715)

Olof Junelius (1715–1716)

Zacharias Forbus (1718–1734)

Jakob Chydenius (1734–1746)

Petter Svebilius (1746–1748)

Johan Kranck I (1748–1784)

Johan Kranck II (1784–1800)

Erik Castrén (1803–1816)

Abraham Montin (1817–1824)

Johan Gustaf Costiander (1824–1833)

Johan Gustaf Kranck (1836–1870)

Herman Ingman (1872–1875)

Johan Lagus (1877–1880)

Victor Wilhelm Wichmann (1881–1894)

Antti Adolf Gummerus-Valtavaara (1895–1917)

Lauri Konstantin Eerola (1919–1949)

Antti Poukkula (1951–1970)

Erkki Vaaramo (1970–1977)

Raimo Karvonen (1978–2007)

Veli-Matti Koivuranta (2007–2015)

Taina Manninen (2016–)



Vicar of Kuusamo 1978–2007



Vicar of Kuusamo 1919–1949



BIBLE 1776




The knowledge of the summary of Christian doctrine or the catechism was interrogated in the so-called inquiry devotions.

The Bible and the hymn book supported personal devotional life.

The same texts, now retranslated, are still relevant to Christians and used today by the congregation.



The congregation received a silver communion chalice as a donation 203 years ago.

The communion cup is used weekly in the Church of the Holy Cross.


COAT 1775/1776

The parish priest Johan Gustaf Kranck acquired a coat to replace the old, stolen coat in the jubilee year of the Reformation in 1775.

The court granted permission to use the coat in communion services, but didn’t promise to use the church’s funds for it.

The coat bought by Kranck was packed along to the evacuee load in the fall of 1944. The coat was still in active use in the 1970s.



Was on the roof of the first church in Kuusamo.

The tarred wrought iron rooster disappeared,  when the symbols were changed in the 18th century. A couple of hundreds years later the rooster was found from the courtyard of a house in Kuusamo.



The 85-year-old goblets have a text ”Christ’s blood shed for you” and a Latin cross with rays between the bars.

Each goblet is hand blown.

The glass communion cups returned from the evacuation trip have been used in the Käylä border region church.



Made of sheet brass, baroque style is 329 years old.

The candles lit in the lamps have illuminated the halls and walls of former churches and still do so in the present Church of the Holy Cross in Kuusamo.