St. Thorlak

Thorlak (1133-1193) is the patron saint of Iceland. He was born to a poor farming family, but he was clearly gifted, so his family made sure he received an education from their local priest. Before he was 15, Thorlak became a deacon, and when he was 18 he became a priest.

A few years later, Thorlak saved enough money to travel to France and England to study theology. When he returned to Iceland, he refused to marry a wealthy widow and instead founded an Augustinian monastery. He stood up for what he believed in, even when it meant confronting people in power, including the most popular chieftain in Iceland.

Iceland’s national assembly declared Thorlak a saint over 800 years ago, but canonization did not become official in the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar until 1984, when Pope John Paul II confirmed Thorlak as the patron saint of Iceland. His feast day is December 23.


  • Thorlak became a deacon at a younger age than most teenagers get their driver’s license! Have you ever been told you were too young to do something you really believed in? If so, how did you handle it?
  • Thorlak was unafraid to speak up for what he thought was right. How can you stand up for yourself when people pressure you to do something you know is wrong?