A short history of the church of Seili


In 1619 an order was given by King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden that a hospital for the people who suffered from leprosy had to be set up at an isolated location in the archipelago of south western Finland . The island of Seili was chosen for this purpose. The present church was built in 1733 as a replacement of the Church of Saint George , the former hospital church which had been transferred to Seili from Turku in the beginning of the 17th century.

The museum church has a cross-shaped plan and it is made of pinewood grown in archipelago islands. The original untreated wooden surface can still be seen inside the church and nowadays it is beautifully patinated by passed centuries. The only colourful objects in the otherwise quite barren but impressive interior are the pulpit decorated by C.J. von Holthusen and the modernistic altarpiece The Storm on Lake Genesaret painted by the Finnish artist Helge Stén.
The unique peculiarity of the church is a massive wooden fence which isolated the lepers from the rest of the church-goers. In the case of Seili, the rest of the church assemblage consisted mainly of patients of the mental hospital and the nursing staff. At the churchyard you can see another attraction. A belfry has been made after the original designs and you can catch a glimpse of the authentic church bells from the 17th century that are hidden in the shadows under the roof.
These days this remarkable piece of Finnish history is managed by the National Board of Antiquities and Historical Monuments and Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland in collaboration with the Archipelago Research Institute and Pro Seili-Själö ry, an association of people having roots on the island.