Sweden // The southeast //

A beggar’s tale


Outside the entrance to Kungliga Amiralitetskyrkan, take a look at one of the city’s best-known landmarks: the wooden statue of Rosenbom, around which hangs a sorrowful tale. Mats Rosenbom, one of the first settlers on Trossö island, lived nearby with his family and earned his keep in the shipyard. However, after a fever killed six of his children and left him and his wife too ill to work, he applied for, and was granted, a beggar’s licence. One New Year’s Eve, while begging at the homes of leading townspeople, he became somewhat drunk from the festive wine on offer and forgot to raise his hat to thank the wealthy German figurehead carver, Fritz Kolbe. When admonished for this, Rosenbom retorted, “If you want thanks for your crumbs to the poor, you can take my hat off yourself!” Enraged, Kolbe struck him between the eyes and sent him away, but the beggar, unable to make it home, froze stiff and died in a snowdrift by the church. Next morning, Kolbe found the beggar frozen to death and, filled with remorse, carved a figure of Rosenbom which stands at the spot where he died. It’s designed so that you have to raise his hat yourself to give some money.

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