Lars Levi Læstadius was a priest at Karesuando from 1826 to 1849.
He had Sámi family himself and unlike many other priests he was positive towards the Sámi language and culture. He was interested in the worldly conditions of the Sámi and believed that priests and other representatives of the authorities should be able to speak the Sámi language.
Because he could see that alcoholism was the cause of social distress among many Sámi, Læstadius 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, læstadianism.
Læstadianism became very significant for the Sámi as a group. Læstadian meetings were characterised by emotional outbursts and gave a feeling of solidarity. To an oppressed minority, this was important. Læstadius™ insistence on using the Sámi language also brought self confidence. In many ways Læstadius was responsible for the preservation of the language and many other aspects of the Sámi culture right up to the present day.
Kristiansen, Roald E., 2005: Samisk religion og læstadianisme.
Minde, H., 1998: Læstadianisme - samisk religion for et samisk samfunn?, Acta Borealia 1.