Saint Bridget of Sweden
July 18, 2019
by staff

Saint Bridget (1303 – 1373) was the daughter of devout, wealthy parents. Her father was a knight who was also a judge and one of the richest landowners in Sweden. Her mother, a relative of the king. St Bridget was raised in a loving home and given a thorough religious education. When she was 10 years old, she received a vision of Our Lord on the cross. Upon witnessing His suffering, she asked Him who treated Him that way. He explained that it was those who despised Him and refused His love for them. This vision enkindled in her a profound devotion to the Saviour which would manifest itself in a deep prayer life, multiple penances, and a desire to save souls.

In 1316 she married a young nobleman. Their union was a happy one and was blessed with eight children, among whom is Saint Catherine of Sweden. As a wealthy noblewoman, St Bridget was able to perform many works of charity, especially toward unwed mothers, and her fame for wisdom and goodness spread throughout the country. When she was in her early thirties, she was summoned to be the principal lady in waiting to the queen of Sweden. Around the year 1342, St Bridget and her husband made a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. During this journey her husband became ill. He died sometime later in the Cistercian Alvastra Abbey in Sweden.

After the death of her husband, St Bridget joined the Franciscan Third Order and dedicated the rest of her life solely to the service of God. The visions which she received from Our Lord throughout her life became more frequent at this time. She would write them down as they occurred and they were later compiled into a book, The Revelations of Saint Bridget.  In one of these visions Our Lord told her: “How then should those deserve to enter into My glory who have little faith, vain hope, and no love? If they believed in the eternal joy of Heaven and in the horrific torments of hell, they would desire nothing but Me.” Saint Bridget also wrote about some aspects of Our Lady’s life: the Immaculate Conception, her sufferings at the foot of the Cross and the mystery of Nazareth, where the Blessed Virgin is present as "Mother and Teacher of all".

In 1344, St Bridget founded the order of the Most Holy Saviour, the Bridgettines, whose chief obligation is liturgical prayer. In 1349, directed by one of her visions, she made a pilgrimage to Rome to beg for the return of the Pope from Avignon and to obtain Papal approval of her order. She remained there until her death, twenty-four years later. In Rome, she continued her practice of prayer, penance and good works. She would partake of her meals with the poor eating together with them on her simple wooden table. Occasionally, she would go on a penitential pilgrimage. The last of these was to the Holy Land, the Pope having by then returned to Rome.

Saint Bridget died on 23 July 1373, on the same table she used for writing and for taking her frugal meals with the poor, thus imitating her Saviour who died on the wood of the Cross. She was canonized in 1391 by Pope Boniface IX.