St Olaf's church will celebrate its 500th anniversary this summer (Aug 2016), but a few years ago, it stood in ruins. The church's restoration is a remarkable story of indefatigable communal effort. In 1993-97, the beautiful wood-tiled roof was renewed with the help of hundreds of volunteers. The new roof was inaugurated with great ceremony in August 1997. Only weeks after completion, the roof and all the wooden interior of the the church were destroyed in an arsen attack. The decision to start rebuilding all over again was made almost immediately. This time, the work included not only the roof, but the pews, gallery, pulpit and altar. Finally, prominent Finnish artists Kuutti Lavonen and Osmo Rauhala were commissioned to do paintings in their own respective styles. This whole process took 12 years (1997-2009). More than 1000 volunteers participated in one way or another, but the massive input of a hard core of about a dozen volunteer craftsmen - average age 80 - was crucial to the completion of the project.
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