Lars Levi Lęstadius was a priest at Karesuando from 1826 to 1849.
He had Sįmi family himself and unlike many other priests he was positive towards the Sįmi language and culture. He was interested in the worldly conditions of the Sįmi and believed that priests and other representatives of the authorities should be able to speak the Sįmi language.
Because he could see that alcoholism was the cause of social distress among many Sįmi, Lęstadius began to urge a new Christian life. He was a charismatic person who awoke strong feelings when he preached against immorality and alcohol. This gradually grew into a wave of awakening, lęstadianism.
Lęstadianism became very significant for the Sįmi as a group. Lęstadian meetings were characterised by emotional outbursts and gave a feeling of solidarity. To an oppressed minority, this was important. Lęstadius insistence on using the Sįmi language also brought self confidence. In many ways Lęstadius was responsible for the preservation of the language and many other aspects of the Sįmi culture right up to the present day.
Kristiansen, Roald E., 2005: Samisk religion og lęstadianisme.
Minde, H., 1998: Lęstadianisme - samisk religion for et samisk samfunn?, Acta Borealia 1.