The story of St. Magnus comes from two sagas. Magnus Erlendsson was born in 1075 to the Earl of Orkney, then under Norwegian rule. His father was a twin, which created complications with who was the rightful earl. Magnus and his first cousin, Haakon Paulsson, ruled jointly for some time, but eventually, their followers demanded that only one man be earl. In 1115, they agreed to meet unarmed on an island and discuss the matter.
|St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall|
Rumors grew of healings at his burial site on Birsay, gaining followers and pilgrims. Magnus’ nephew, St. Ronald, decided to build a cathedral in Magnus’ honor. In 1137, Magnus’ remains were moved to the cathedral in Kirkwall. In 1917, bones were found in one of the columns, including a damaged skull, lending proof that they were Magnus’ remains. Because the Reformation was not as dramatic or violent in Orkney as in other parts of the UK, St. Magnus is one of very few saints who still rests in his cathedral in the country.