Icelandic folktale: Death Diverted
This is one of many Icelandic miracle tales:
When the Black Death raged through the Skagafjörður area in 1403 the angels of death travelled the land by day in the form of a blue mist, but at night they looked partially human.
One night the farmer of Fornu-Vellir woke up to the sound of sheep grazing on the roof of the farmhouse. He got up to drive them off and when he had done this he noticed through the dark that two of the angels of death were standing by the gate to the home pasture. He suspected that they had business at the farm that they were discussing. He listened in and heard one of the angels say:
“We shall visit here and here we shall visit.”
The other replied: “We shall not visit here and here we shall not visit.”
The first one then said: “We shall not visit here and here we shall not visit, for the light of the sainted Mary shines from a tussock and we shall leave as soon as can be.”
After that the angels departed, and the Black Death never came to the farm. The farmer gave thanks to the sainted Mary for her act of grace. After this the farm’s name was changed to Skinþúfa (Shining Tussock).
The farm’s owner changed the farm’s name to Vallanes in 1908. By that time the name of Skinþúfa had become garbled to Skinnþúfa (Skin Tussock), and the farmer was unfamiliar with the origin of the name.
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