March 8, 2015

Holmfridur Arnadottir (1873-1955) -- Iceland’s first Baha’i; the translator of Dr. Esslemont’s Baha’u’llah and the New Era into the Icelandic language; the only Icelander Baha’i for 30 years until her passing

Holmfridur Arnadottir has been accorded by the beloved Guardian the station of Iceland’s first Baha’i. From her first contact with the Faith in 1924 until her passing in 1955, she was alone in her realization of the mission of Baha’u’llah, the only Icelander to hail the glad tidings of the New Day. Far this and far two memorable services she will ever be honored in Icelandic history. She was the translator of Dr. Esslemont’s Baha’u’llah and the New Era into the Icelandic language, an enduring work of the greatest significance at this time when the Cause is beginning to prow in Iceland under the momentum of the Ten-Year Crusade. And she served tirelessly and with great devotion our greatest Baha’i teacher, Martha Rout, during her unforgettable visit to Iceland for one month in 1935, bringing her into contact with many leaders of thought end paving the way for Martha’s public work through lectures, newspaper articles and radio talks.

The Message of Baha’u’llah came to Miss Arnadottir through Mrs. Amelia Collins, who with her husband visited Reykjavik for two days in 1924. “Iceland made a holiday of the landing of our cruiser,” Mrs. Collins has recalled, as it was the largest to have entered the harbor to that date. Martha has written of this historic meeting in these words: “One should begin any saga, any article about Iceland with the name of Einar Jonsson; he is the greatest soul in Iceland today... It may have been only a coincidence, but it is like a confirmation from God that it was in this lofty Einar Jonsson Museum that the Milly-Holmfridur flower of friendship was first planted in Iceland.” It was the planting of the divine seed in Iceland, beautifully and loyally tended by Milly for over thirty years; and the association of these two spiritual sours warmed and cultivated this vital Northern land for the rich harvest which even today may be glimpsed and confidently anticipated.

After a long and rich life devoted to humanitarian and spiritual endeavor, Holmfridur passed to the Abha kingdom at the age of eighty-two, in Reykjavik, on November 25, 1955. She was truly a universal soul, gifted with the assurance of the New Day dawning upon humanity, and Iceland in centuries to come will look back to her as to the morning star. 
(by Marion Hofman, ‘The Baha’i World 1954-1963)