Concept

Lars Levi Laestadius

Summary
Lars Levi Læstadius (ˈlɑːʂ ˈlěːvɪ lɛˈstɑ̌ːdɪɵs; 10 January 1800 – 21 February 1861) was a Swedish Sami pastor and administrator of the Swedish state Lutheran church in Lapland who founded the Laestadian pietist revival movement to help his largely Sami congregations, who were being ravaged by alcoholism. Laestadius was also a noted botanist and an author. Laestadius himself became a teetotaller (except for his ongoing use of wine in holy Communion) in the 1840s, when he began successfully awakening his Sami parishioners to the misery and destruction alcohol was causing them. Laestadius was born in Swedish Lapland at Jäckvik near Arjeplog in a western mountainous part of Norrbotten County, the northernmost county in Sweden, to Carl Laestadius (1746-1832)—a Swedish hunter, fisherman, tar-maker, and one-time silver mine bailiff, who lost his job due to alcoholism—and Anna Magdalena (née Johansdotter) (1759-1824), who was the elder Laestadius's second wife. Both were of distant Sami descent. The family lived in poverty due to Carl Laestadius's alcoholism and extended absences. However, with help from Lars Levi's older half-brother Carl Erik Laestadius (1775-1817), a pastor at Kvikkjokk, with whom Lars Levi and his younger brother Petrus (1802-1841) lived part of their childhood, the boys were able to pursue educations, first at Härnösand and starting in 1820, at Uppsala University. Due to their benefactor half-brother's death in 1817, the boys were constantly short of funds from the outset of their university studies. Nevertheless, Lars Levi proved to be a brilliant student. Because of his interest in botany, he was made assistant in the botany department while pursuing studies in theology. Lars Levi Laestadius was ordained a Lutheran priest in 1825 by the bishop of Härnösand, Erik Abraham Almquist. In 1827 Laestadius married Brita Katarina Alstadius, a local Sami woman who was a childhood friend of his; and together they had twelve children, at least two of whom died in childhood.
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