The church in Seili is built in 1733. Before that, a smaller chapel stood in the same place. The chapel was originally built to be the chapel of the St. George’s hospital in Turku. When the lepers of the hospital were moved to Seili, also their chapel was moved with them. What was left of the hospital in Turku was all burned down.
|The church seen from the front door.|
During the Russian occupation in the Great Northern War, most people in Seili fled to Sweden. One of them was the director of the hospital, who also took the church bells with him. When people moved back, most of the buildings were in bad condition. The buildings were rebuilt and the new church is the one standing there today. Until 1840 Seili had its own vicar. After this, the parish of Nauvo has organized services in Seili three times a year, which is a tradition still in use.
The building master was a peasant called Kaarle Jaakonpoika from the nearby village of Merimasku. The church was built during the time of three months in one summer, which is understandable, since the church stands on the leper island. It seems that as much of the work as possible was made ready in beforehand in Merimasku.
The church of Seili is a cruciform shaped, where the altar is in the east. The church of Merimasku has the same building master and is oly a few years older than the one in Seili. It is very similar to the church in Seili, only larger and more decorated. The only decorated part in the church of Seili is the pulpit. It is decorated by the then 19-year-old student Carl Johan von Holthausen, who also painted the angelpainting next to the pulpit. Von Holthausen never became a famous artist, but made his carriere in the Swedish army.
|The votiv ship "Agent" in the middle. To the left Helge Sténs Storm on the Sea of Galilee.|
Next to the altar there is the painting Storm on the Sea of Galilee, by Helge Stén. In 1957 the first lady Sylvi Kekkonen donated a red antependium to the church. Since the antependium a few years ago became into rather bad condition, it was moved away from Seili to be concervated. The original antependium will not be handed back to the church, but a member of the Pro Seili – Själö association is making a copy of it, which will be placed in the church.
The windows were enlarged partly in 1839, 1898 and 1906. Because of this, buttresses were monted in the church.
|The leper's side of the church.|
The votivship is donated in 1982 by the magazine Turun Sanomat and the bank Suomen Yhdyspankki. It is made by the famous model ship builder Åke Sandvall. The ship is a model of a brig called Agent, which was used by merchandisers of Nauvo in the 19th century. Since Finland during this time was a grand dutchy of Russia, Agent has the Russian flag.
In the west wing is the leper’s benches, which are placed behind a fence. It is easy to see that these benches are less carefully made than the benches on the “clean” side of the church. The mental patients were allowed to sit on the “clean” side, closest to the front door.
|The tomb is placed right under the floor.|
In the middle of the church floor there is a hatch, under which there is a tomb. It is the tombs of the director Eric Lithander and his family, and is masoned in 1757. Lithander donated money to the hospital, and got for it a tomb in the church. In 1822 the Tsar prohibited entombment inside churches.
During the time of the first chapel, they were placed outside the door of the lepers. Since it was hard to get a bell-ringer to ring bells so close to the lepers, the new church’s belltowers were placed a few meters away from the church. The church bells are the oldest equipment of the church and hospital. They are the same ones that were taken to Sweden during the occupation in 1713 - 1722. Please do not ring the bells when you visit Seili. In areas without electronic alarms for signing danger, church bells are still in use to warn of fire or other danger.