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Members of families influence one another in many ways. Some of these influences happen very much on purpose while others happen by osmosis. I like to learn about the families of famous people. Today I’d like to tell you about Leif Ericksson and his mama.

Erik the Red was a Viking. In 985, while living in a Viking settlement in Iceland, Erik sailed westward to the largest island in the world, Greenland. There he settled with his family. According to an Icelandic saga called “Saga of Erik the Red,” Erik’s son, Leif, called Leif Ericksson (for obvious reasons), left Greenland shortly before 1000 and traveled to the Viking homeland on the Scandinavian peninsula.

Leif went to Norway and visited with King Olaf I. The king taught Leif about Jesus and Leif became a believer. King Olaf sent Leif back to Greenland to convert the Viking settlers.

According to the saga, Leif headed toward Greenland but lost his way. He landed in a rich land where wild wheat, grapes, and a kind of tree that may have been a maple grew. Leif Ericksson named the land Vinland. Vinland was most likely in North America on the eastern coast of Canada. This is why Leif Ericksson is credited as being the true discoverer of America.

leif erickson library of congress
Christian Krohg created this engraving of Leif Eriksson sailing to America. Leif is pointing to the shore as he steers his ship through rough seas. It was published in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1911. There are stories of Vikings coming to Minnesota, but that’s another story.

When Leif Ericksson left Vinland, he came upon a ship in need of rescue and helped them. He was given its cargo as a reward. For this reason, he came to be called Leif the Lucky.

Leif Ericksson made it back to Greenland and taught the people there about Jesus. One of the Greeland settlers who came to believe was Leif’s own mother Thjódhild (pronounced THYOHD-hild). Thjódhild is given credit for guiding the construction of the first church building on the island of Greenland.

What a beautiful way for a son to honor his mother and what a beautiful way for a mother to honor her Savior and her son.

And He said to them,
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
Mark 16:15


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