Father Jón Sveinsson, SJ



Scott 528
ICELAND, 1980, Scott 528

Jón Stefán Sveinsson was born at Modruvellir, Iceland, just a few degrees south of the polar circle, close to the Eyjafjord. He and his brother were raised there and in Akureyri. He was popularly known as "Nonni," and was so famous as a writer of children's stories that his childhood home has been turned into a museum, Nonni House. At the age of twelve he moved to Denmark and France. He received a scholarship to study in France from a French aristocrat, a lover of Iceland. The momentous decision to study in France was made on July 31, 1870, the feast of St. Ignatius. But his journey was delayed because of the French-German War in 1870. He waited in the residence of the Catholic bishop of Copenhagen, and became a Catholic at the age of thirteen. He attended the Jesuit school in Amiens and, at the age of 21 he entered the Society of Jesus. He was ordained in 1890 and taught French, Norse, sport, and drawing at the Andreas College in Denmark. Illness forced him to give up teaching and he turned to writing at the age of 55. He had a wonderful gift for story-telling, and a longing to see the wide world. His first book, Islandblomster [Iceland Flowers], published in 1906, was a cultural and literature study of Iceland and its sagas that Sveinsson regarded as flowers. His first "Nonni" book was Nonni: Erlebnisse eines jungen Isländers, von ihm selbst erzählt [Nonni: Experiences of a Young Icelander, Told by Himself] published in German in 1913. His portrait became known throughout the world. Crystal-clear, light-blue eyes shone from a bright, contented face, framed by white hair with a white pointed beard. He answered personal inquiries with great simplicity. His twelfth and last book, Nonni's Voyage Around the Globe, appeared posthumously in 1949. More

Nonni has an avid fan in Friederika Priemer of Cologne, who has commissioned personalized stamps and envelopes illustrated below from Germany, Iceland, and the United States.

UNITED STATES, 2008, from letter postmarked 10 July, the first bearing Nonni's autograph reading
"In friendly memory, Jón Svensson (Nonni) 15 July 1927 Biberach"

2008, from letter postmarked 25 November

GERMANY, 2008, a personalized envelope (address digitally removed) with the cover of a "Nonni und Manni" book (upper left)
and an imprinted stamp showing Nonni and his brother Manni

2008, a personalized envelope dated 24 April (address digitally removed) with an imprinted stamp showing the Nonni Fountain in Cologne and the bronze plaque (upper left) at that fountain.

2008, a personalized envelope dated 29 July (address digitally removed) and a street sign (upper left) marking a street in Cologne dedicated to Nonni

2009, a personalized envelope dated 30 April (address digitally removed) with Tokyo Bay in the upper left and an imprinted stamp of Nonni talking to Japanese children. The envelope commemorates an exhibition in Japan in October 2008 marking the 70th anniversary of Nonni's first visit there.

2009, a personalized envelope with Nonni and Kishibe, a famous Japanese story teller, in the upper left and an imprinted stamp of Nonni talking to Japanese children, again marking the exhibition in Japan in October 2008

JAPAN, personalized stamps designed by Motokatsu Watanabe and issued in October 2008 who organized the Nonni exhibition.
Nonni is saying to the children "Nice to see you again."

GERMANY, 2009, a personalized postal card marking the 65th anniversary of Nonni's death,
the reverse side shows Nonni's grave marker and is captioned "Melaten Cemetery: Tomb of the Cologne Jesuits"

GERMANY, 2010 two personalized stamps showing the cover of the Nonni biography by Fr. Hermann Krose, SJ: Jón Svensson: Ein Lebensbild Nonnis nach seinen Tagebüchern (Jón Svensson: A Picture of Nonni's Life According to His Diaries)

GERMANY, 2011, a personalized envelope showing Nonni's greeting (as above) and the stamp an image of Nonni in Prague in 1936.

GERMANY, 2013, personalized covers and imprinted stamps to commemorate the centenary of the first Nonni book in German

ICELAND, 2014, personalized stamps for 50 gram letters, one within Iceland, one for Europe,
designed by Friederika Priemer to mark the 70th anniversary of Nonni's death.

2014, personalized stamps, the image used is from the cover of the book, Pater Jón Sveinsson—Nonni, by Gunnar F. Guðmundsson, for which the author won the 2012 Icelandic Literary Prize in the category of non-fiction.

2014, a different cover and imprinted stamp to commemorate the 70th year since Nonni's death