I attended the Icelandic Catholic Mass on a recent sunny Sunday morning. It was my first Catholic Mass and my first church service in Icelandic. (I tried the Icelandic service at the church I usually attend this week and was pleasantly surprised at how much I understood.) The Landakotskirkja was consecrated in 1929. It was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, the same architect as the Hallgrímskirkja, which was commissioned in 1937. The beautiful arched ceilings in both churches are a good place to start looking for similarities in design.
On one side of the church is a beautiful sculpture by Steinunn Thorarinsdottir, a prolific Icelandic sculptor. The figure appears to be praying and perfectly captures the stillness and peace of the sanctuary. I took these photos the day before attending mass. I spent a few minutes sitting alone in the big, empty church while the sun was pouring in the windows behind the altar and candles flickered in the shadows behind the last pews. I highly recommend stepping inside if you are visiting the city.
Fun fact: There was no official Catholic presence in Iceland from the Reformation to the 19th century. In fact, the last Catholic Bishop, Jón Arason, was beheaded in 1550, and was not replaced until the early 1800’s. The National Museum of Iceland has a great permanent display on the history of Iceland, including the Reformation era, for my fellow history buffs who want to learn more.