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Maiden's Leap

There are two different stories surrounding the Maiden's Leap. You can read both and choose your favorite.

During the time of the Swedish Wars, likely between 1657 and 1660 when much of Denmark was occupied, frisky Swedish soldiers pursued a modest young girl. To save her honor, she fled to the tower of St. Knud's Church, and when the Swedish soldiers followed her there, she threw herself from one of the top windows of the church tower. She fell to the ground at Klingenberg in front of the gate to St. Knud's Monastery and died instantly. On the pavement in front of the Telephone House, one can still— with a bit of imagination—see the imprint of her feet, which struck the ground with great force.
The story is actually quite brief, but like other tales, it has improved over the years. When Bishop Engelstoft wrote his town history at the end of the 19th century, the story was still more or less as told above. Later attempts were made to explain the hole in the stone—it was supposedly a mark from the maiden's umbrella. And in a Sunday supplement to the Fyens Stiftstidende from October 1937, there was even a dramatized version of the story, where the author, Torkild Fleng, could tell that the maiden's last words were "God have mercy on my soul."
All in all, Bishop Engelstoft was skeptical about the story of the Maiden's Leap. There were no contemporary sources for the story, neither in diaries nor other records, but it was rather a loose folk tale that had been linked to the memory of the Swedish occupation—a testament to the deep impression this occupation had made. And curiously enough, a precisely similar story is known from Norway, also directed against the Swedes.
So, with a smile, the story could just as well be renamed from the story of the Maiden's Leap to the story of "the cursed Swedes."

In the archive of the Danish Folklore Collection, there is a story submitted in 1934 by Mary Petersen from Søborg. The tale is about a maiden with a child, who jumps from the church tower.
An old legend about a memorial stone at Flakhaven. A maiden served a high-ranking household in Odense. The household was threatened and pursued by enemies, and in this high-ranking home, there was a single child whom the enemies had threatened to kidnap and kill. One day, when the maiden was alone with the child, the robbers appeared. The maiden hastily fled with the child, pursued by the robbers. She ran to St. Knud's Church, seeking a place of refuge, but was discovered by the robbers. The maiden then ran up into the tower of the church with the child in her arms. The robbers quickly followed. She then dared a deadly leap from the church tower down to Flakhaven, which in old times was a greensward. An old watchman spotted the pursued maiden in her flight. She held the child tightly in her arms until she reached the ground. She did not die from the fall, but from the fear. The child lived for many years.
There is a large flat stone on Flakhaven, showing the footprint of an adult and a small child's foot, chiseled into it. The stone is very worn but still shows the mark, and the legend is well known, especially by us older folks born in Odense.
Often, as we walked from school, we would stand on the stone to see if our wooden shoes fit the mentioned imprint on the memorial stone about the maiden who jumped from St. Knud's Church tower.

Location of #3 "Maiden's Leap"

Dive of the Virgin

Last Updated 29.05.2024