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Virtual Earth map of Hans Egede statue in Nuuk

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Hans Egede (January 31, 1686, Harstad, Northern Norway–November 5, 1758, Falster, Denmark) was a Norwegian Lutheran missionary, called the Apostle of Greenland. Egede was an evangelist on the northern Norwegian islands of Lofoten when he heard stories of a green land settled by the Vikings but with which contact had been lost years before. In May 1721, he asked Frederick IV of Denmark for permission to seek the colony and establish a mission there, presuming that they had remained Catholic or lost the Christian faith. Frederick gave consent at least partially to reestablish a colonial claim to the island.

Egede landed on the west coast of Greenland on July 3. He was sent to seek the old Viking colony on Greenland but he found no survivors. The last communication with that colony had been over 300 years earlier. He did, however, find the Inuit and started a mission among them. He studied the Inuit language and translated Christian texts into it. This required some imagination as, for instance, the Inuit had no bread nor any idea of it. So the words of the Lord's Prayer were translated by Egede as the equivalent of "Give us this day our daily harbor seal".

Egede founded Godthåb (now Nuuk), which later became the capital of Greenland. In 1724, he baptised the first children. The new king, Christian VI of Denmark, recalled all Europeans from Greenland in 1730. Egede remained, however, encouraged by his wife Gertrud. Egede's book Det gamle Grønlands nye Perlustration, (The old Greenland's new Perlustration, or an accurate description of those old Nordic Colonies in Greenland) appeared in 1729 and was translated into several languages.

In 1733, the Herrnhut missionaries of Nicolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf were allowed to establish New Herrnhut, south of Nuuk. In 1734, a smallpox epidemic broke out which spread through the Inuit and claimed Gertrud Egede in 1735. Hans Egede left his son Paul in Greenland and traveled on 9 August 1736 with its daughters and his son Niels to Copenhagen. In 1741, he was named bishop of Greenland. He established a catechism for use in Greenland in 1747.

Egede became a national saint of Greenland and the town of Egedesminde commemorates him. It was established by Niels Egede, Hans's second and surviving son, in 1759 on the Eqalussuit peninsula but moved to the island of Aasiaat in 1763, which had been the site of a pre-Viking Inuit settlement.

(From Wikipedia)



 

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