Bridget of Sweden (December 15, 1303 – 23 July 1373); born as Birgitta Birgersdotter, also Birgitta of Vadstena, or Saint Birgitta (Swedish: heliga Birgitta), was a mystic and saint, and founder of the Bridgettines nuns and monks after the death of her husband of twenty years. Outside of Sweden, she was also known as the Princess of Nericia and was the mother of Catherine of Vadstena. (Though normally named as Bridget of Sweden, she was not a member of Swedish royalty.)
Saint Bridget of Sweden
Altarpiece in Salem church, Södermanland, Sweden (restored digitally)
|Born||December 15, 1303|
|Died||23 July 1373|
Rome, Papal States
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Canonized||7 October 1391 by Pope Boniface IX|
|Major shrine||Vadstena Abbey|
8 October (General Roman Calendar of 1960)
7 October (Sweden)
|Attributes||Pilgrim's hat, staff & bag; crown, writing-book.|
|Patronage||Europe, Sweden, Widows|
The most celebrated saint of Sweden was the daughter of the knight Birger Persson of the family of Finsta, governor and lawspeaker of Uppland, and one of the richest landowners of the country, and his wife, a member of the so-called Lawspeaker branch of the Folkunga family. Through her mother, Ingeborg, Birgitta was related to the Swedish kings of her era.
She was born in June 1303. There is no exact recording for which precise date. In 1316, at the age of 14 she married Ulf Gudmarsson of the family of Ulvåsa, Lord of Närke, to whom she bore eight children, four daughters and four sons. Six survived infancy, which was rare at that time. Her eldest daughter was Märta Ulfsdotter. Her second daughter is now honored as St. Catherine of Sweden. Her youngest daughter was Cecilia Ulvsdotter. Bridget became known for her works of charity, particularly toward Östergötland's unwed mothers and their children. When she was in her early thirties, she was summoned to be principal lady-in-waiting to the new Queen of Sweden, Blanche of Namur. In 1341 she and her husband went on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
In 1344, shortly after their return, Ulf died at the Cistercian Alvastra Abbey in Östergötland. After this loss, Birgitta became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis and devoted herself wholly to a life of prayer and caring for the poor and the sick.
It was about this time that she developed the idea of establishing the religious community which was to become the Order of the Most Holy Saviour, or the Brigittines, whose principal house at Vadstena was later richly endowed by King Magnus IV of Sweden and his queen. One distinctive feature of the pre-Reformation houses of the Order was that they were double monasteries, with both men and women forming a joint community, though with separate cloisters. They were to live in poor convents and to give all surplus income to the poor. However, they were allowed to have as many books as they pleased.
In 1350, a Jubilee Year, Bridget braved a plague-stricken Europe to make a pilgrimage to Rome accompanied by her daughter, Catherine, and a small party of priests and disciples. This was done partly to obtain from the Pope the authorization of the new Order and partly in pursuance of her self-imposed mission to elevate the moral tone of the age. This was during the period of the Avignon Papacy within the Roman Catholic Church, however, and she had to wait for the return of the papacy to Rome from the French city of Avignon, a move for which she agitated for many years.
It was not until 1370 that Pope Urban V, during his brief attempt to re-establish the papacy in Rome, confirmed the Rule of the Order, but meanwhile Birgitta had made herself universally beloved in Rome by her kindness and good works. Save for occasional pilgrimages, including one to Jerusalem in 1373, she remained in Rome until her death on 23 July 1373, urging ecclesiastical reform.
In her pilgrimages to Rome, Jerusalem and Bethlehem, she sent "back precise instructions for the construction of the monastery" now known as Blue Church, insisting that an "abbess, signifying the Virgin Mary, should preside over both nuns and monks."
Bridget went to confession every day, and had a constant smiling face. Although she never returned to Sweden, her years in Rome were far from happy, being hounded by debts and by opposition to her work against Church abuses. She was originally buried at San Lorenzo in Panisperna before her remains were returned to Sweden. She was canonized in the year 1391 by Pope Boniface IX, which was confirmed by the Council of Constance in 1415. Because of new discussions about her works, the Council of Basel confirmed the orthodoxy of the revelations in 1436.
At the age of ten, Bridget had a vision of Jesus hanging upon the cross. When she asked who had treated him like this, he answered:
She was so impressed that from that moment the Passion of Christ became the center of her spiritual life. The revelations she had received since childhood now became more frequent, and her records of these Revelationes coelestes ("Celestial revelations") which were translated into Latin by Matthias, canon of Linköping, and by her confessor, Peter Olafsson, prior of Alvastra, obtained a great vogue during the Middle Ages. These revelations made Bridget something of a celebrity to some and a controversial figure to others.
Her visions of the Nativity of Jesus had a great influence on depictions of the Nativity of Jesus in art. Shortly before her death, she described a vision which included the infant Jesus as lying on the ground, and emitting light himself, and describes the Virgin as blond-haired; many depictions followed this and reduced other light sources in the scene to emphasize this effect, and the Nativity remained very commonly treated with chiaroscuro through to the Baroque. Other details often seen such as a single candle "attached to the wall," and the presence of God the Father above, also come from Bridget's vision.
The Virgin kneels to pray to her child, to be joined by Saint Joseph, and this (technically known as the "Adoration of the Child") becomes one of the commonest depictions in the fifteenth century, largely replacing the reclining Virgin in the West. Versions of this depiction occur as early as 1300, well before Bridget's vision, and have a Franciscan origin, by which she may have been influenced, as she was a member of the Franciscan Order. Her visions of Purgatory were also well known.
In addition, "she even predicted an eventual Vatican State, foretelling almost the exact boundaries delineated by Mussolini for Vatican City in 1921."
Pope Benedict XVI spoke of Bridget in a general audience on 27 October 2010, saying that the value of Saint Bridget's Revelations, sometimes the object of doubt, was specified by Pope John Paul II in the letter Spes Aedificandi: "Yet there is no doubt that the Church," wrote my beloved predecessor, "which recognized Bridget's holiness without ever pronouncing on her individual revelations, has accepted the overall authenticity of her interior experience."
Saint Bridget prayed for a long time to know how many blows Jesus Christ suffered during His terrible Passion. Rewarding her patience, one day He appeared to her and said, "I received 5480 blows upon My Body. If you wish to honor them in some way, recite fifteen Our Fathers and fifteen Hail Marys with the following Prayers, which I Myself shall teach you, for an entire year. When the year is finished, you will have honored each of My Wounds."
The prayers became known as the "Fifteen O's", because in the original Latin, each prayer began with the words O Jesu, O Rex, or O Domine Jesu Christe. Some have questioned whether Saint Bridget is in fact their author; Eamon Duffy reports that the prayers probably originated in England, in the devotional circles that surrounded Richard Rolle or the English Brigittines.
Whatever their origin, the prayers were quite widely circulated in the late Middle Ages, and became regular features in Books of Hours and other devotional literature. They were translated into various languages; an early English language version of them was printed in a primer by William Caxton. The prayers themselves reflect the late medieval tradition of meditation on the passion of Christ, and are structured around the seven last words of Christ. They borrow from patristic and Scriptural sources as well as the tradition of devotion to the wounds of Christ.
During the Middle Ages, the prayers began to circulate with various promises of indulgence and other assurances of supernatural graces supposed to attend from their regular recitation over the course of a year. These indulgences were repeated in the manuscript tradition of the Books of Hours, and may constitute one major source of the prayers' popularity in the late Middle Ages. They promise, among other things, the release from Purgatory of fifteen of the devotee's family members, and that they would keep fifteen living family members in a state of grace.
The extravagance of the promises made in these rubrics – one widely circulated version promised that the devotee would receive "his heart's desire, if it be for the salvation of his soul" – attracted critics early and late. In 1538, William Marshall enjoined his readers to "henseforth ... forget suche prayers as seynt Brigittes & other lyke, whyche greate promyses and perdons haue falsly auaunced." In 1954, the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office found the alleged promises (though not the prayers themselves) unreliable, and directed local ordinaries not to permit the circulation of pamphlets containing the promises.
In 1651 the Brigitta Chapel was erected in Vienna, and in 1900 the new district Brigittenau was founded. In Sweden, adjacent to Skederid Church, built by Bridget's father on the family's land, a memorial stone was erected in 1930.
On 1 October 1999 Pope John Paul II named Saint Bridget as a patron saint of Europe. Her feast day is celebrated on 23 July, the day of her death. Her feast was not in the Tridentine Calendar, but was inserted in the General Roman Calendar in 1623 for celebration on 7 October, the day of her 1391 canonization by Pope Boniface IX. Five years later, her feast was moved to 8 October (although the Church in Sweden celebrates it on the 7th), where it remained until the revision of the General Roman Calendar in 1969, when it was set on the date currently used. Some continue to use the earlier General Roman Calendar of 1954, the General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII, or the General Roman Calendar of 1960.
Bjärka-Säby Monastery has a portrait of Bridget of Sweden venerated by Christians of several denominations. An hour away from this monastery, Vadstena Abbey, also known as Blue Church, contains relics of the saint, with her body being venerated by both Lutheran and Catholic believers.
In Sweden itself, different images of Bridget have prevailed over the centuries: the Swedish nationalist image, the ecumenical, the European, the spiritual and mystical, even accusations associating her visions with mental illness.
Although initially interested in Bridget's Revelations, Martin Luther would come to view her visions mere ravings. Queen Christina of Sweden said she preferred to be counted among the sensible rather than among the saints, compared because she too moved to Rome. Some 19th-century writers presented her as a forerunner of the Protestant Reformation due to her criticism of popes, bishops and other clergy for not living in accordance with the teaching of their religion. However, she never criticized that teaching or the church as such.
Of her as depicted in his play Folkungasagan August Strindberg explained Bridget as "a power-hungry, vainglorius woman who intentionally vied for sainthood", adding "of this unpleasant woman and according to the historical documents I made the uncontrollable ninny now in my drama, although in her honor I let her awaken to clarity about her silliness and her arrogance."
In Throne of a Thousand Years (1996) it is described how Bridget damaged King Magnus and Queen Blanche by accusing them of "erotic deviatons, extravagance and murderous plots", criticism particularly noted by Dala-Demokraten as likely to upset Swedish nuns. With the translation of her Latin works into Swedish, however, there is now more understanding and appreciation of her in some Swedish circles.
Bridget—or Birgitta as she is known in Sweden—left her homeland and travelled to Rome, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem, sending back precise instructions for the construction of the monastery I am now entering, known as the "Blue Church" after the unique color of its granite. Birgitta insisted that the abbess, signifying the Virgin Mary, should preside over both nuns and monks.
Faced with the corruption of the Avignon papacy, she even predicted an eventual Vatican State, foretelling almost the exact boundaries delineated by Mussolini for Vatican City in 1921.
But the Lutheran pastor who met us there was not the steward of an empty shell, but instead oversaw a living devotional site frequented by Protestants and Catholics alike. (It does not hurt that Birgitta's forceful critique of the papacy led some to see her as proto-Protestant.) After placing our fingers in the holes, my companions and I entered the complex, and were met with a beautiful cross celebrating Birgitta and her daughter Catherine, painted by a Pentecostal icon painter. Most remarkable was the vaulting of this massive Gothic complex. Brigittine nuns wear the "Crown of the Five Holy Wounds" with five red symbolic stones. In the same way, the five bosses connecting the Gothic ribbing are here painted red, causing pilgrims to momentarily become Brigittines themselves, their heads enclosed with the five wounds as they step under every vaulted bay. Although there was some destruction and damage to statues from invading Danish soldiers, most here have survived. We make our way to the still-preserved relics of Birgitta, but are interrupted by a bell. Thirty pilgrims stop to gather in the rear of the church for a Taizé prayer service before a gorgeous Byzantine icon of Christ made by that same Pentecostal painter.
Martin Luther may have called her die tolle Brigit, "crazy Birgitta," but there was her body—enclosed in a red casket, now tastefully tended by Lutherans.
Like England, Sweden went Protestant during the Reformation. But the Lutheran pastor who met us there was not the steward of an empty shell, but instead oversaw a living devotional site frequented by Protestants and Catholics alike. (It does not hurt that Birgitta's forceful critique of the papacy led some to see her as proto-Protestant.)
Saint Birgitta's Revelaciones, that is, her Revelations written in Latin, appeared in critical editions during the years 1956 to 2002 under the aegis of the Royal Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, Stockholm.
English translations are:
Birgitta is the Swedish and Icelandic form of the Irish Gaelic female name Brighid. Brighid or Brigid was the name of an ancient Celtic goddess, and its English form is Bridget. Birgitta and its alternate forms Birgit and Britta became common names in Scandinavia because of St. Bridget of Sweden.Bridget
Bridget or Brigid is a Gaelic/Irish female name derived from the noun brígh, meaning "power, strength, vigor, virtue". An alternate meaning of the name is "exalted one". Its popularity, especially in Ireland, is largely related to the popularity of Saint Brigid of Kildare, who was so popular in Ireland she was known as "Mary of the Gael". This saint took on many of the characteristics of the early Celtic goddess Brigid, who was the goddess of agriculture and healing and possibly also of poetry and fire. One of her epithets was "Brigid of the Holy Fire". In German and Scandinavian countries, the popularity of the name spread due to Saint Bridget of Sweden.
In the Irish language, the name is spelled Brighid or Bríd and is pronounced "breed" or "breej". In the Scottish Gaelic language, the name is spelled Brìghde and is pronounced "breej-eh" At one time the name was so popular for Irish girls that Bridey was used as a slang term for an Irish girl in English-speaking countries. Some Irish servant girls were called Biddie or Biddy by their employers even if that wasn't their real first name. It has been steadily used in the United States throughout the 20th century, though never among the top 100 most popular names for girls. It was most popular in the 1970s, when it ranked as the 153rd most popular name for girls born in that decade in the United States. In 2006, it was the 349th most popular female given name in the United States; in 2007 it fell to 357th place. It was ranked as the 367th most common name for girls and women in the United States in the 1990 census.Bridget of Sweden (disambiguation)
Bridget of Sweden - Swedish: Birgitta - may refer to:
Bridget Haraldsdotter or Brigida, Queen consort of Sweden 1160
Bridget, Princess of Sweden 1448, daughter of King Charles VIII of Sweden
Princess Birgitta of Sweden (legal spelling), Princess of Sweden 1937
Bridget of Sweden, Vatican saint (had no Swedish royal title)Bridget of York
Bridget of York (10 November 1480 – 1517) was an English princess, the tenth child and seventh daughter of Edward IV of England and Queen Elizabeth Woodville.
She was the youngest sister of Elizabeth of York, Mary of York, Cecily of York, Edward V, Margaret of York, Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York, Anne of York, George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Bedford, and Catherine of York. She was also an aunt of Henry VIII of England.
She was born in Eltham, London on 10 November 1480, and was baptised by Edward Story, Bishop of Chichester on 11 November 1480. Her godmothers at the baptismal fount were her paternal grandmother, Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, and her oldest sister, Elizabeth of York. Her godfather was William Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester. Bridget's aunt Margaret, Lady Maltravers, served as her godmother at her confirmation. Bridget was likely named after St. Bridget of Sweden.Her parents may have decided at the time of her birth that this daughter would be dedicated to a religious life, and Princess Bridget was entrusted to Dartford Priory, Dartford, Kent sometime between 1486 and 1492. She became a nun.Bridget maintained correspondence throughout her life with her sister Elizabeth of York, who also paid for her various minor expenses, as well as minor expenses of the orphaned Agnes of Eltham. After Bridget's sister, Elizabeth of York, married Henry VII, Elizabeth paid some of Bridget's expenses and kept in touch with her via messengers. Bridget is known to have left Dartford on at least one occasion, when she attended the funeral of her mother, Elizabeth Woodville, in 1492. She died about 1517.Bridgettines
The Order of the Most Holy Savior (Latin: Ordo Sanctissimi Salvatoris), abbreviated as O.Ss.S., and informally known as the Brigittine or Bridgettine Order is a monastic religious order of Augustinian nuns, Religious Sisters, and monks founded by Saint Bridget of Sweden (Birgitta) in 1344, and approved by Pope Urban V in 1370. There are today several different branches of Bridgettines.Britta
Britta (also spelled Brita) is a female given name that is a variant of the Swedish name Birgitta, which is a form of the Irish Gaelic name Brighid (Bridget in English). The name Britta became popular in Scandinavia and Germany because of St. Bridget of Sweden.Christ on the Cross (Zurbarán)
Christ on the Cross is a 1627 painting by Francisco de Zurbarán, now in the Art Institute of Chicago.In 1626 Zurbarán signed a new contract with the Dominicans of San Pablo de Real Monastery in Seville to produce 21 paintings in 8 months. One of these was Christ on the Cross, which was so admired by the artist's contemporaries that Seville's city council suggested he moved there permanently in 1629.
As in Diego Velasquez's 1632 Christ Crucified, the artist shows Christ's two feet nailed separately - the number of nails used to crucify Christ was then a matter of controversy, with Bridget of Sweden writing of four nails. Both works also draw on a Counter Reformation trend after the Council of Trent to depictions focusing solely on Christ rather than those gathered around the cross.Ebba Witt-Brattström
Ebba Witt-Brattström (Swedish pronunciation: [²ɛbːa ˈvɪtː ²bratːstrœm]; born 1953) is a Swedish scholar in comparative literature. She is Professor of Literature and head of department at Södertörn University outside Stockholm, and a well-known feminist.
Witt-Brattström completed her Ph.D. with a dissertation on the Swedish author Moa Martinson (Moa Martinson: skrift och drift i trettiotalet) at Stockholm University in 1988. She has since written a number of texts on St. Bridget of Sweden, Victoria Benedictsson and Edith Södergran (among others). She also translated the novel Egalia's Daughters by Gerd Brantenberg into Swedish. In 2010 she published a history of the feminist movement in Sweden, 'Å alla kära systrar (For all dear sisters).
Witt-Brattström was the Dag Hammarskjöld Visiting Professor at the Department for Northern European Studies at the Humboldt University of Berlin from 2008. From 2012 she is Professor of Nordic Literature at Helsinki University.
In the 1970s she was a member of the feminist organisation Grupp 8, and in 2005 she was one of the founders of the feminist political organisation and party Feministiskt Initiativ, although she later distanced herself from the organisation and criticized what she saw as its strong left-wing tendencies.
Between 1989 and 2014 Ebba Witt-Brattström was married to Horace Engdahl, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy. They have three sons. She also has an older son from an earlier marriage.
Both her parents came to Sweden as refugees during the Second World War. Her father was a German anti-Nazi from a relatively affluent family, while her mother was an Estonian from a poor peasant's family. Her parents divorced early, and she grew up with her mother.Gumley House Convent School
Gumley House Convent School is a Roman Catholic secondary school for girls ages 11 to 18 in Isleworth, Hounslow, West London. The school has specialisms in Business & Enterprise and Languages. On 1 March 2012 it became an academy.
The school has a joint sixth form with two other Catholic secondary schools in the borough: Gunnersbury Boys' School and the mixed St Mark's Catholic School. It also has links with the local parish church Our Lady of Sorrows and St Bridget of Sweden Church down the street.Hemming of Turku
Blessed Hemming of Turku was a Swedish Roman Catholic bishop and served as the Bishop of Turku from 1338 until 1366. He was born in Sweden though relocated to Finland following his appointment as bishop. He became a popular figure in the diocese for his staunch dedication to the educational and spiritual needs of the faithful. He was also a close friend of Saint Bridget of Sweden. During his studies he knew the future Pope Clement VI as one of his classmates.The cause of sainthood opened under Pope Alexander VI in 1497 which later resulted in his beatification from Pope Leo X in 1514. Pope Clement VII was to preside over the sanctification in 1530 but the Reformation halted all plans to do so.List of Swedish saints
This list of Swedish saints includes all Christian saints with connections to Sweden, either because they were of Swedish origin and ethnicity or because they travelled to the Swedish people from their own homeland and became noted in their hagiography for their work. A small number may have had no Swedish connection in their lifetime, but have nonetheless become associated with Sweden through the depositing of their relics in Swedish religious houses in the Middle Ages. The list does not discriminate between Roman Catholic and Protestant saints.
Like many European nations, a number of saints were connected to the Royal Family but, unusually, a large number of Swedish saints were women.List of schools in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles
This is a list of schools in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The Archdiocese spans three counties: Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara. Not all the schools listed are operated by the Diocese. Some are operated by religious institutes such as the Jesuits or the Franciscans. There are five universities or colleges, and 51 high schools within the archdiocese.Märta Ulfsdotter
Margareta "Märta" Ulfsdotter, in Norway known as Merete Ulvsdatter (1319-1371), was a Swedish noble and lady in waiting. She was the daughter of Saint Bridget of Sweden and the head lady in waiting of Margaret I, Queen of Denmark.Saint Birgitta's chapel
Saint Birgitta's chapel (Swedish: Sankt Britas kapell) is located on the east coast of the island of Öland, Sweden, some four kilometers from the village of Bredsättra in Bredsättra socken, Borgholm Municipality, in a marshy area called Kapelludden. The chapel dates from the 13th century; today nothing remains but the foundation and the eastern wall, the western wall having fallen down during a storm in 1914.Saint Ingrid of Skänninge
Saint Ingrid of Skänninge (died in Skänninge, 9 September 1282) was a Swedish abbess venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. She founded Skänninge Abbey, a nunnery belonging to the Dominicans, in 1272. Her feast day is on September 2.Santa Brigida, Rome
Santa Brigida is a convent church dedicated to St Bridget of Sweden and the Swedish national church in Rome. It was also known as Santa Brigida a Campo de' Fiori since it was built on what was then part of Campo de' Fiori but is now the urbanistically distinct Piazza Farnese.Skara Cathedral
Skara Cathedral (Swedish: Skara domkyrka) is a church in the Swedish town of Skara. The cathedral is the seat for the bishop of the Church of Sweden Diocese of Skara.
Its history is traced from the 10th century, but its current appearance in the Gothic style is from the 13th century. The choir dates back to the early 13th century, whilst the transept and nave took shape a century later. The cathedral was damaged and restored on several occasions, making its current appearance a rather modern building. In the 1760s, it was given a baroque southern facade, and between 1886 and 1894 it underwent a dramatic restoration that gave it its current style and shape. The previously flat twin towers were given pointed Gothic spires. The flat towers made the local people think of a pair of upside-down trowsers, earning the cathedral the colloquial nickname "the britches of Skara".
The 37 mosaic stained glass windows were created by the artist Bo Beskow in cooperation with glazier Gustav Ringström between 1945 and 1976. The motifs are mostly biblical, but the two Swedish saints Bridget of Sweden and Helena of Skövde are also depicted. No windows from the medieval church have been preserved.
There are four bells in the two towers on the west side. The northern tower contains the large bell, cast in 1725 and enlarged in 1785, whilst three smaller bells hang in the southern tower.
The church has a medieval crypt that was found in 1949 after having been buried under stones since the 13th century. A grave, containing a skeleton, was found in the crypt, which is within the oldest (10th century) part of the cathedral. Some remains of the original 10th century structure can still be seen in the crypt.
The church is 65 metres (213 ft) long and the towers reach a height of 63 metres (207 ft).Skederid Church
Skederid Church (Swedish: Skederids kyrka) is a medieval, former Catholic church that today belongs to the Lutheran Archdiocese of Uppsala. It lies just outside Norrtälje in Stockholm County, Sweden. It was built by Birger Persson, father of Saint Bridget of Sweden, and it is probably the church where she was baptised.Zimri (prince)
Zimri son of Salu was the prince or leader of a family within the Tribe of Simeon during the time of the Israelites' Exodus in the wilderness at the time when they were approaching the Promised Land. The Book of Numbers describes how, at Abila or Shittim, he took part in the Heresy of Peor, taking as a paramour a Midianite woman, Cozbi. Zimri openly defied Moses before the people who were standing at the entrance of the Tabernacle by going in to the Midianite. Phinehas, grandson of Aaron, killed them both by impaling them on a spear (Numbers 25:6-15).
The Israelites subsequently launched an attack on the Midianites (Numbers 25:16-18).
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