The oldest church in Sea Lapland is the Old Church of Keminmaa, or St. Michael’s Church, which was completed in 1553 and is the northernmost surviving medieval stone church in Finland. The church is also famous because the mummy of Pastor Rungius (who died in 1629) can be seen under the floor. Rungius was said to have said in his lifetime, “If my words are not true, my body will rot, but if they are true, it will never rot.”
Archaeologist Tiina Väre has a doctorate in Rungius’ mummy, according to which the statement may be a later advertisement for the church’s message. Rungius himself may have thought that his body would survive and explained it with his creed. At the time, people knew there were mummies under the church. In the 17th century, it was explained by divine influence.
The survival of the body was not a surprise. The humidity below the church has been measured, but the conditions under the floor are not particularly dry. There must have been adequate ventilation for mummification. In Finnish conditions, cold is also a factor that promotes mummification.
Fact: Nikolaus Rungius
Source: University of Oulu
The church is open during the summer and there is a guide presenting the church.