Principal Swedish reformer under Gustavus Vasa; b. Örebro, Diocese of Strengnäs, Jan. 6, 1493; d. Stockholm, April 19, 1552. Petri received his preparatory education in Strngnäs's Carmelite school and his advanced education at Wittenberg (1516–18). Upon returning to Strengnäs in late 1518, he was ordained by and became secretary to Bp. Mattias Gregorii. Petri won to his cause Laurentius Andreae, Sweden's great church politician and chancellor of the king's privy council, who, in turn, converted King Gustavus Vasa to lutheranism.
Olaus Petri was a gifted theologian, a great popular preacher, and an able writer. He was not a fighter like luther, but more a man of peace and seriousness. He had a genius for absorbing materials from Luther or other reformers (for example, the Ratschlag of Osiander of 1524) and reworking them into literature adapted to his countrymen. While his work was not original, neither was it slavish translation. Petri published his doctrinal tract An Useful Teaching and had translated the New Testament into Swedish by 1526, but his greatest contribution was made in 1527 to 1528 when in the Lutheran-Catholic disputes he stressed that Sweden had strayed from the Christian church established by English missionaries, which he now aimed to restore. His writings covered the sacraments, marriage, monastic life, the primacy of God's Word and other fields. As a result of these efforts, the Diet of Västerås (1527) voted to break with Rome and introduce reforms. At the Council of Örebro (1529), Chancellor Andreae paved the way for a "Reformed Church" as proposed by Olaus and his younger brother Laurentius, then archbishop of Uppsala.
The period of 1529 to 1531 was productive of liturgical and homiletical writings for use in the emerging Lutheran Church: a Manual of Service (1529), Hymn Book (1530), Catechism (1530), and a Swedish form of The Mass (1531) modeled upon German forms in Wittenberg and elsewhere. The Petri brothers collaborated further in the translation of the Swedish Bible published in 1541. By the 1544 Diet of Västerås most of the Catholic usages had disappeared, and by 1552 Sweden was definitely Lutheran. Olaus engaged in a series of disputes with Gustavus Vasa over the position of the Church within the State. The Petri brothers also opposed any efforts at reconciliation with Rome during the early years of the Council of Trent. Gustavus honored Petri by placing him in charge of the Ecclesia Stockholmensis, supervising all churches in addition to his own church, St. Nicholas, where he had been pastor for more than 20 years.
Bibliography: o. petri, Samlade skrifter, ed. b. hesselman, 4 v. (Uppsala 1914–18). c. j. i. bergendoff, Olavus Petri and the Ecclesiastical Transformation in Sweden (New York 1928). w. gÖbbel, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Tübingen 1957–65) 5:246. g. schwaiger, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiberg 1957–65) 8:326.
[e. g. schwiebert]