Christianity gradually arrived in Finland from east and west in the first millennium. Finland was tied to Western Christianity when Bishop Henry arrived around 1155 to organise the church life that had already begun. Having suffered a martyr’s death, Bishop Henry was buried at Nousiainen, the first centre of the Finnish mission diocese.

A papal letter from 1259 makes the first mention of the Bishop of Turku (episcopus Aboensis). Previous bishops had been called Bishops of Finland.

The Finnish mission diocese and later the Dioceses of Turku and Viipuri (from 1723 Porvoo) belonged to the archiepiscopal see of Uppsala, established in 1164, until the end of Swedish rule in 1809.

After the Reformation the bishop’s office was preserved in Sweden (see Laurentius Petri’s Church Order of 1571). The Bishop of Uppsala retained the title of Archbishop. The Archbishop was the first among the bishops, primus inter pares. He was in charge of the parliamentary clerical estate and the church’s representative meetings.

At the Diet of Porvoo in 1809 Alexander I confirmed Lutheran doctrine and guaranteed the Church’s episcopal order. To mark the 300th anniversary of the Reformation in 1817 the Bishop of Turku was elevated, becoming the Archbishop of Turku and Finland.

In addition to Sweden and Finland the other Lutheran Churches with an archbishop’s office are the Lutheran Churches in Estonia and Latvia, as well as the Lutheran Church working in Russia, which has its roots in Germany.

Archbishop Tapio Luoma is 55. He is the fourteenth Bishop of Turku and Archbishop of Turku and Finland.