Birgitta of Sweden 23 July 1373
Birgitta (Bridget) Birgerstotter was born in Sweden about 1303, daughter of the governor of the province of Uppland. As a child, she began to have dreams about the suffering of Christ. She was married at 13 to Ulf Gundarsson, son of the governor of the province of West Gotland. They had four offspring. In 1335, she became chief lady-in-waiting to the Queen of Sweden. In 1341, she and her husband made a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, and on the return trip her husband Ulf Gudmursson fell ill and died soon after.
Birgitta began to live a more ascetic life. Her dreams and visions grew more frequent and vivid, and became more and more the focus of her life. She devoted her life to prayer, to assisting the poor and needy, and to speaking plainly to those in power. She mediated between warring rulers, and warned the Pope at Avignon that it was his duty to return to Rome (see Brigitta in Rome).
In 1351 she founded an order of both monks and nuns, to be governed by an abbess. The order, the Order of the Holy Savior, popularly called the Brigittines, spread through Europe, and was an important educational influence. Today, the Society of St. Birgitta (Birgittastiftelsen) in Sweden is a laypersons' society that seeks to carry on her work.
She is known for her Revelations, which are largely meditations on the Passion of Our Lord. An extract follows:
O God, who by your Holy Spirit give to some the word of wisdom, to others the word of knowledge, and to others the word of faith: We praise your Name for the gifts of grace manifested in your servant Birgitta, and we pray that your Church may never be destitute of such gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
written by James Kiefer
|Notes for this article:
Jubilee of St. Brigitta, 2003 (700 years)