Church ships are common in all European regions with traditions to ship building and seafaring. The oldest preserved church ships on the continent are from the 16th century and except of the ship in Storkyrkan in Stockholm, from 1590, the oldest Scandinavian ones are from the beginning of the 17th century (i.e. Ho in Denmark from 1605, Hauho in Finland from 1609 and Bergen in Norway from 1610). It is presumed, thiught, that there has been a much longer tradition in church ships than the preserved ships tell about.
The church ships are often called votive ships. They are traditionally said to be given to the parish as a beg for blessing for a long travel or as a thank for being saved from a ship wreck. Aspecially in protestant churches, such as the ones on the Scandinavian coast and archipelago, the ships are often not particulary votive ships. They are often given in memorial for a relative who has passed away, or simply as a decoration. Since there are only few documents on the donations of church ships, it is not known in what proportions the church ships are votive ships and other.
The church ships remembered the parishoners of close ones who were at sea or had drowned, but they also had a Christian symbolism. The boat is commonly used in Christian art and telling as the travel to Heaven. Also all Christians can be pictured as sitting in the same boat, being protected and navigated by Christ.
The ship Agent is flagged with the Russian flag. Finland was during the 19th century a autonomus Great Dutchy of Russia. During the Crimean war, Brittish and French warships abducted Finnish merchant ships, which is why they got a special permission to have a flag of their own. The merchant flag was much a like the Finnsih flag today, but the blue cross was darker and thinner. After the war, the Finnish merchant flag got the Russian flag in the upper corner and a anchir in the lower corner.