Mor Greta´s revelations and the Sorseleläseriet

Margareta Sophia better known as "Mor Greta" (1804-1883) and her husband Niccolaus (Nils) Johansson Sorsén (1799-1882) took part in the movement against the Swedish state church. Mor Greta and the group; the “new readers” protested against usage of the new church books that were introduced 1819. These manuals gave the priests monopoly on preachment and other church ceremonies something that was very impractical when emergency baptism sometimes was needed in the north of Sweden and the priest could be miles away. Those who did not obey the law and baptise their children within  eight days were persecuted; and if it was repeated they were banished for two years. Mor Greta and the group; the “new readers” protested against that. Mor Gretas visions were published in a document (revelations).

The new readers in Västerbotten were punished and the police force tried to imprison the “believers”. Mor Greta being a woman was not imprisoned but taken to Umeå hospital for psychic diseased as a punishment. But the doctor at the hospital did not find anything wrong with her and refused to hospitalize her and released her immediately.

How come that a women in the north of Sweden dared to oppose the powerful Swedish state church in 1830ies? One explanation is that Mor Greta and Nils had eleven children but five of them died before the age of one. That must have been a trauma and the family had need for emergency baptism. Before they had been able to do that without a priest present but after the new churchbooks was decided upon that became illigal. The families had to take the new born from the mother and go by ski if it was in the winter 10 kilometer to the church and then back for the baptism. Not many newborns survieved those journeys.

Mor Greta blamed herself for the death and thought that it was Gods punishment for her not believing strong enough. Fact in that matter was that before penicillin and child care  infant mortality was extremely high in Sweden. And the new churchbooks worsen the situation. Another explanation for Mor Greta daring to express herself was that she came from a long line of vicars (priests) a heritage that made her gifted. She could read and write and she was intellectually gifted.

The priests Mor Greta came from had come to Västerbotten county during 1500- to 1700-century. Her grandmothers grandfather was Sjul Mårtensson Granberg (1682-1731) priest in Sorsele parish and of Sami origin. His wife was daughter to Daniel Edin vicar in Åsele. Other were the vicar in Bygdeå, Nicolaus Petri Turdinus (1550-1626) and in Anundsjö Olaus Petri Kuuth (1570-1650) from Skellefteå.

A special priest of Sami origin that Mor Greta was related to was Lars Rangius (1667-1717) the third priest in Sorsele (1693-1709). Their relationship was following: Margareta Sofia Johansson Sorsén (Mor Greta) → Gertrud Brita Johansdotter her mother → Katarina Larsdotter Læstander her mother → Lars Olofsson Læstander ( the older) her father → Carin Larsdotter Rangia his mother → Lars ( Laurentius) Rangius her father.

After being a prist in Sorsele for some time Lars Rangius was appointed prist in Silbojock (1709–1717). Lars Rangius died suddenly 1717. Lars Rangius is most known for making the first translation of the New Testament into Sami language (Ume-Sami language). The work was never published, but it is saved as cultural heritage at the library Carolina Rediviva at Uppsala University. It was registered in the archive in 1713. (See photo below.)




Photo : From Lars Rangius handwritten translation of the New Testament in Ume-Sami language. 1713. Photo: B. Fransson.

Later it was the priest Pehr Fjellström who made the first translation into Sami language in 1755. He had access to Lars Rangius work but wanted to make a universal language for Samis. Karin Wilson (2008) have made a dissertation on Rangius version where some of the story is told.

Mor Greta also had two famous cousins, the two brothers Lars-Levi and Petrus Laestadius both priests. The brother’s mother, Anna Magdalena was sister to Mor Greta´s mother Gertrud. Lars-Levi Laestadius was a priest and botanists and the founder of Laestadianismen a form of high church conservative movement. Lars-Levi seems to have been influenced by the Västerbotten readers like Mor Greta. Like them he opposed usage of alcohol both personally and as a tool for trade as he believed that alcohol was one of the reasons why the Sami people lived in such a misery. Lars-Levi is also famous for giving name to five plants. Today Lestadianism has 150,000 belivers in Sweden, Finland, USA and Russia.

The other brother Petrus Laestadius was also a priest but most famous for his research about life in the north of Sweden. Petrus Laestadius investigated prerequisite to live in the north for the Swedish government. His work is published in two books called Journal. In the first Journal a journey to Grundträsk (Krutträsk) where he visited his cousin Mor Greta is referred. His first Journal was awarded by the Swedish Academy 1832 and in Umeå he has named a street. Today Petrus Laestadius Journals are inexhaustible sources on what life in Västerbotten county was like in 1830ies. The journals are available for free on Google books:

Mor Gretas husband Nils died 1882 and she passed away the year after. They are both buried on the old churchyard in Sorsele.

Mor Greta´s text about her Revelations is available in the Swedish National Archive. We publish them on this web page (only in Swedish).


Mor Gretas "Uppenbarelser" Mårtensdotter Johansson, Margreta Sophia: Till den gunstige läsaren, National Archive.

Bilare, A och Bilare, M (1979) Sorseleläseriet och Mor Greta i Grundträsk, Essay published at a family reunion 1978.

Bilare, M (1988). Barn av den heta elden, Västerbottensförlaget, Länsbildningsförbundet, Skolgatan 49, 902 46 Umeå. Utgiven 1988. ISBN-91-87432-01-3.

​Læstadius, Petrus (1831). Journal af Petrus Læstadius, Första året af hans tjenstgöring såsom missioär i Lappmarken,

Wikmark, Gunnar (Teol. dr.) Margareta Sophia Mårtensdotters 'uppenbarelser'.

Wilson, Karin (2008). Markusevangeliet i Lars Rangius samiska översättning från 1713. Acta Academiae Regiae Gustavi Adolphi CI. Uppsala.


Photo: Mor Greta and Nils grave and to the right one of their son Anders Nilssons family grave.