Saint of the Day – 23 July – St Bridget of Sweden (c 1303-1373) – Widow, Religious, Mystic, Confessor, Founder of the Bridgettines Nuns and Monks, author of “The Pieta” book of devotions. Born in 1302 or 1303 at Finsta Castle, Uppsala, Sweden and died on 23 July 1373 at Rome, Italy of natural causes. She was buried in 1374 at the Vadstena, Sweden convent she had founded. St Bridget was Canonised on 7 October 1391 by Pope Boniface IX. Patronages – Europe, Sweden, widows. Attributes – Religious habit, Pilgrim’s hat, staff & bag; crown, writing-book. She is one of the six patron saints of Europe, together with Benedict of Nursia, Sts Cyril and Methodius, Catherine of Siena and Edith Stein.
The most celebrated Saint of Sweden was the daughter of Birger Persson, the Governor and Provincial Judge of Uppland and of Ingeborg Bengtsdotter, who was related to the royal family. Bridget was born in Sweden in 1303. From the time she was a child, she was greatly devoted to the Passion of Jesus.
When she was only ten, it is recorded that she had a vision of Jesus on the Cross and heard Him say, “Look at me, my daughter.”
“Who has treated you like this?” cried little Bridget.
Jesus answered, “Those who despise me and refuse my love for them.” From that moment on, Bridget tried to stop people from offending Jesus.
When she was 14, Bridget married an 18-year old man named Ulf. Like Bridget, Ulf had set his heart on serving God. They had eight children, of whom one was St Catherine of Sweden. Bridget and Ulf also served the Swedish court, Bridget as the Queen’s personal maid. Bridget tried to help King Magnus and Queen Blanche lead better lives, however for the most part, they did not listen to her.
All her life, Bridget had marvellous visions and received special messages from God. In obedience to them, she visited many rulers and important people in the Church. She explained humbly what God expected of them.
After her husband died, Bridget put away her rich clothes and lived as a poor nun. Later, in 1346, she began the order of the Most Holy Saviour, also known as Bridgettines. She still kept up her own busy life, travelling about doing good everywhere she went. And through all this activity, Jesus continued to reveal many secrets to her, which she received without the least bit of pride.
Shortly before she died, the saint went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. At the shrines there, she had visions of what Jesus had said and done in each place.
All St Bridget’s revelations on the sufferings of Jesus were published after her death. Her Prayers continue to be a favourite devotion of Catholics all over the world and are published under the title the “Pieta Prayers.”
St. Bridget died in Rome on July 23, 1373. She was proclaimed a saint by Pope Boniface IX in 1391.