Missioning in the 17th and 18th centuries
In Norway and Sweden a number of Sámi had already converted to Christianity by the 17th century, but the most intense missionary activities in the Sámi areas came during the period from 1650 to 1750.
Many harsh methods were used. Offering sites and drums were destroyed.
In Sweden the authorities began their efforts to convert the Sámi in the 17th century. Their intention was that the Sámi should be baptised and should attend church services. In church they would be instructed in the ways of Christianity and thereby led away from their traditional faith.
The mission in Norway was organised by the government in the 18th century. The work was led by the priest Thomas von Westen. He has been called the “apostle of the Sámi”. The strategy in Norway was to convert each individual Sámi. To achieve this aim, von Westen collected a great deal of information about the old Sámi faith. This was to enable him to present arguments to the Sámi he met and to persuade them to convert.
Even though the Sámi officially became Christian in the 17th and 18th centuries, many continued to honour their old gods and offering places. Read more about this here.