Out in the open sea in North Troms is a small village. Today the village is depopulated and only inhabited during the holiday season, remote as it is. However, when this event happened in 1959, it was still a thriving village. Like many other villages in North Troms, the village had a strong element of Laestadianism (a conservative Christian community). Getting to the doctor was often difficult. One was reliant on small boats to travel, and bad weather or winter could mean enormous hardship in order to get there.
Consequently, it was not unusual to make use of alternative options, and healing by faith in God’s word was seen as normal and not mysterious.
The fact that someone could stop the blood or take away pain was considered just as normal as others acting as midwives.
At school in the village, the pupils had lessons for two weeks in a row then had two weeks off, and from year five an itinerant teacher also taught the pupils woodwork. The woodwork lessons lasted for three weeks with long school days, also on Saturdays. During one of these woodwork lessons, Per was working on a chopping board for his mother. He planed and sanded for dear life. He had got a sharp splinter in his eye and felt immediate pain. He tried to get the splinter out, but it was too painful and he was unable to get it. The teacher also tried but could not remove it, so he sent Per home. He came home crying, red-eyed. His mother was at home and met him on the stairs. She tried to help too, but like Per and the teacher was unable to remove the splinter. It was now too far back on the side of his eye.
Per’s eye became worse and worse and he was in immense pain. After a while his whole shin was swollen. When Per’s father returned from sea, he decided to take Per to a so-called “wise woman” who they called Big Marja. If anyone could help, it had to be her. On arrival, Big Marja looked anxiously at Per. This did not look good, but she tried to help. She was a large and powerful woman, but with careful fingers she turned his eye and used her tongue to lick away the splinter.
The pain did not stop with this, and Per’s father took him to a man they called Jonna, who had the ability to eliminate aches and pains. Jonna stroked Per on his cheek and down his shoulders all the way to his fingers as he recited a few words from a small prayer book. His whole arm felt warm, and it was as if the pain disappeared out of his finger tips. After that it did not take long before his face regained its normal shape and colour. Per returned to school the following day.
Sources: Det usynlige nord, Roald Larsen (Red)
Images/Media: freeimages.com, Lien, Per K. / Nordøsterdalsmuseet