State funeral of former Finnish president Mauno Koivisto on 25 May

President Mauno Koivisto.

President Mauno Koivisto.

Government Communications Department  
Press Release 255/2017

The state funeral of former President of the Republic of Finland Mauno Koivisto will be held on Thursday 25 May. 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 honours 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 President of the Republic, 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 of the Republic Sauli Niinistö. 

At the end of the service, the choir will present the Finlandia hymn by Jean Sibelius. The concluding music will 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, Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces, and Lieutenant General Jaakko Kaukanen, Chief of the Border Guard.

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 honour, 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 honour of former president Koivisto. Full military honours will then be rendered by the guard of honour 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 honours 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 honours will be rendered by an honour 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 isteby 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 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.

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.

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 25 May, 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. 


Instead of flowers, those wishing to leave a tribute in memory of Mauno Koivisto are invited to make a donation to the following funds that support research, education and cultural activities:  

National Education Fund, bank account no: Nordea FI85 1521 3000 0060 09
The Finnish Cultural Foundation, bank account no: Nordea FI73 1572 3000 0114 86
Svenska Kulturfonden, bank account no: Aktia FI46 4055 4020 0000 20

Please include ‘In memory of President Mauno Koivisto’ in the information field.

Prearranged wreath laying will take place at Helsinki Cathedral at 9.30–11.00, before the funeral service. Contact: Anna-Maria Salomaa, Counsellor, Protocol Services, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, anna-maria.salomaa(a), tel. +358 50 431 6050.

The public will not have an opportunity to present floral tributes or similar in the cathedral.

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


Prime Minister’s Office

Paula Lehtomäki, State Secretary, tel. +358 295 160 280, paula.lehtomaki(a)
Timo Lankinen, Permanent State Under-Secretary, tel. +358 295 160 300, timo.lankinen(a)
Päivi Paasikoski, Head of Communications, tel. +358 40 547 6279, paivi.paasikoski(a)

Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Matti Heimonen, Chief of Protocol, tel. +358 2953 51484, matti.heimonen(a)
Jouni Mölsä, Director General of Communications, tel. +358 50 430 6517, jouni.molsa(a)

Helsinki Cathedral Parish

Petri Oittinen, Chief Verger, tel. +358 50 500 4194, petri.oittinen(a)

Finnish Defence Forces

Colonel Ahti Kurvinen, tel. +358 299 421 100, ahti.kurvinen(a)
Eero Karhuvaara, Public Information Chief, tel. +358 299 500 720, eero.karhuvaara(a)
Juuso Metsälä, Public Information Officer, Guard Jaeger Regiment, tel. +358 299 421 233, juuso.metsala(a) 

Traffic arrangements

Heikki Porola, Chief Superintendent, tel. +358 295 474500
Reijo Alaoja, Technical Expert, City of Helsinki Public Works Department, tel. +358 9 310 38976