On Thursday, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon and Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette Marit of Norway opened the visitor centre dedicated to the memory of Hans Nielsen Hauge outside the city of Fredrikstad. Hans Nielsen Hauge was a Norwegian lay preacher, industrial founder and community builder. A memorial “is located on the farm in Rolvsøy where Hauge was born 250 years ago.
The Crown Prince Couple’s visit to Hauge’s birthplace began at the “field” where Hauge had his spiritual awakening. Svein Høiden, the leader of the anniversary committee, told about this important event in Hauge’s life before they walked up to the farm and Hans Nielsen Hauge’s Memorial site. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess cut the cord for the new visitor centre together.
In his opening speech His Royal Highness the Crown Prince said: “Hans Nielsen Hauge was one of those who laid the foundation for democratic Norway before the Eidsvoll constitution. In a time of great class differences and all power in a few hands, Hauge launched a movement for freedom and equality. A movement based on all people being equally valuable: women and men, young and old, rich and poor, high and low. The story of Hans Nielsen Hauge is a reminder to all of us to meet forces that want to create change by peaceful means – in a way that can withstand the light of posterity.”
After the Crown Prince had declared the visitor centre open, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess took a closer look at the facilities. Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit were presented with several aspects of Hans Nielsen Hauge’s life and work. The exhibition deals with his upbringing and background and the family’s history on Rolvsøy. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess also heard about Hauge’s broad activities within intellectual life, community involvement and entrepreneurship.
The preacher Hans Nielsen Hauge shared a message of faith, based on grace and love, not on judgment and punishment. He wanted everyone to read the Bible for himself or herself and make up their own minds. His followers were called Haugians, and the movement was founded in the period 1796-1804 when Hauge conducted extensive activity in large parts of the country. Hauge is described as the individual who has had the greatest influence on Norwegian church life after the Reformation.