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Portrait of the former Finnish president, Mauno Koivisto, standing on the table at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki during the signing ceremony of the book of condolences on May 17, 2017. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The state funeral of the former Finnish president, Mauno Koivisto, will be held on Thursday, May 25. The funeral service will take place at 13.00 in Helsinki Cathedral. The service will be conducted by Bishop Eero Huovinen.

Mauno Koivisto will be buried with full military honors in the section of Hietaniemi Cemetery that includes the graves of former Finnish presidents Urho Kekkonen and Risto Ryti. A memorial ceremony for invited guests will take place at the House of the Estates.

The funeral arrangements take due account of the way in which previous state funerals have been arranged, the personal history of Mauno Koivisto and the wishes of the family.

The state funeral will be broadcast live on channel TV1 of the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE, on the online service YLE Areena and on Radio Suomi.

Funeral service in Helsinki Cathedral

The funeral service will begin with Surusoitto (Mournful Music) by Jean Sibelius, after which the Helsinki Cathedral Boys’ Choir Cantores Minores will sing Taneli Kuusisto’s Suomalainen rukous (Finnish Prayer).

The organist for the funeral service will be Seppo Murto, the cantor will be Harri Viitanen and the choirmaster will be Conductor Hannu Norjanen. Floral tributes will be left by the bereaved family, the Finnish president, the former Finnish presidents, Martti Ahtisaari and Tarja Halonen, and on behalf of the Finnish Parliament and the Finnish Government. After the floral tributes, the Guards Band will play Jean Sibelius’s “Andante festivo,” led by Chief Conductor Jyrki Koskinen.

Before the funeral sermon, Hymn 600 “Hyvyyden voiman ihmeelliseen suojaan (The Power of Goodness)” will be sung, and the Cantores Minores choir will perform Jean Sibelius’s “Sydämeni laulu (Song of My Heart).” The sermon will also be preceded by a prayer and scripture reading. The blessing will be made by Bishop Eero Huovinen.

Professor Jorma Hynninen will then present Kalervo Hämäläinen’s “Veteraanin iltahuuto (Veteran’s Evening Call)” together with the Helsinki Cathedral Boys’ Choir Cantores Minores and the Guards Band. The Lord’s Prayer and the benediction will be followed by the singing of Hymn 396 “Sua kohti Herrani (Nearer, My God, to Thee; traditional version).”

The eulogy will be given by President Sauli Niinistö. At the end of the service, the choir will present the “Finlandia hymn” by Jean Sibelius. The concluding music will be  “Narvan marssi (March of Narva),” played by the Guards Band.

Serving generals and admirals will act as the pallbearers in Helsinki Cathedral. Preceding the coffin will be General Jarmo Lindberg, the commander of the Finnish Defence Forces, and Lieutenant General Jaakko Kaukanen, the chief of the Border Guard.

Public participation

The funeral cortege will depart from Helsinki Cathedral to Hietaniemi Cemetery at about 14.30, and the public can view the cortege as it proceeds along its route to the cemetery. Members of the public may also attend the funeral service in Helsinki Cathedral. Entrance will be via the side doors, from about 11.30. Please arrive so as to be seated by 12.30 at the latest.

[alert type=white ]Led by the mounted police, the cortege will proceed along the following route: Unioninkatu – Aleksanterinkatu – Snellmaninkatu – Vironkatu – Meritullinkatu – Pohjoisranta – Pohjoisesplanadi – Mannerheimintie – Arkadiankatu – Hietaniemi Cemetery.[/alert]

The last state funeral for a Finnish president was arranged almost 31 years ago. The funeral cortege of the former Finnish president, Urho Kekkonen, at the Northern Esplanade on September 7, 1986. Picture: Matti Karjanoja

Cortege to Hietaniemi Cemetery

The funeral cortege will leave Helsinki Cathedral at about 14.30 and arrive at Hietaniemi Cemetery at about 15.00.

Led by the mounted police, the cortege will proceed along the following route: Unioninkatu – Aleksanterinkatu – Snellmaninkatu – Vironkatu – Meritullinkatu – Pohjoisranta – Pohjoisesplanadi – Mannerheimintie – Arkadiankatu – Hietaniemi Cemetery.

The cortege will stop outside the Government Palace, the Bank of Finland and the Presidential Palace.

Outside the Presidential Palace, the cortege and the guard of honor, composed of representatives of the army, navy and air force, will observe a minute’s silence. During this time, the Flag of the President of the Republic will be lowered as a mark of respect in honor of former president Koivisto. Full military honors will then be rendered by the guard of honor as the former commander-in-chief of the Finnish Defence Forces conducts his final inspection.

Funeral bells will be rung by all of Helsinki’s Lutheran churches while the cortege proceeds to the cemetery.  Upon arrival at Hietaniemi Cemetery, the bell ringing will cease and the bells of Hietaniemi Chapel will be rung.

Mauno Koivisto will be buried with full military honors in the section of Hietaniemi Cemetery that includes the graves of former Finnish presidents Urho Kekkonen and Risto Ryti. The pallbearers at the cemetery will be Koivisto’s former aides-de-camp. The military honors will be rendered by an honor guard appointed by the Guard Jaeger Regiment, and by the Guards Band. The YL Male Voice Choir will sing Oi kallis Suomenmaa (O Precious Finland).

Memorial ceremony at the House of the Estates

After the burial, a memorial ceremony will be held for invited guests at the House of the Estates. The memorial ceremony will be opened by the Turku YMCA Male Choir, led by Tommi Saalas. The choir will perform Locus iste by Anton Bruckner. The Turku YMCA Male Choir was established in 1919. The initial address at the memorial ceremony will be given by Heikki Allonen, representing the family.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä will present words of remembrance, and the eulogy will be given by the former prime minister, Paavo Lipponen. During the memorial ceremony, performances of Yrjö Kilpinen’s “Laululle (To Song),” Ilmari Hannikainen’s “Rauha (Peace)” and Oskar Merikanto’s “Sinulle (For You)” will be presented by soprano Tuuli Takala, accompanied by Tuula Hällström on the grand piano.

Flags at half-mast

The Prime Minister’s Office has decided that government agencies and public bodies throughout the country will observe the flag flying arrangements determined for the state funeral. It is also recommended that the same flag flying arrangements be observed throughout the country. On May 25, flags are to be flown at half-mast from 8:00 in the morning until the end of the memorial ceremony, which is expected to be at about 17.30.   At that time, flags are to be raised to full mast and finally lowered at sunset, but no later than 21.00.

Traffic arrangements in central Helsinki

It will be necessary to close certain streets along the route of the funeral cortege. These streets will be closed from about 14:00 until about 16:00, and these closures may lead to traffic congestion. For this reason, members of the public are urged to avoid unnecessary travel by car in the vicinity of Helsinki Cathedral and Hietaniemi Cemetery.

Prior to the funeral, work will be carried out to ensure the route of the cortege is clean and tidy, and for this purpose people will be asked to cooperate with requests to observe special parking restrictions on Monday and Tuesday May 22-23.

When this work is complete, the area will remain subject to a ban on vehicle parking/standing from Tuesday May 23 until Thursday May 25. The state funeral may also require temporary closures of cycle and pedestrian routes.

For more information about public transport services during the state funeral, go to the Helsinki Region Transport website at

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