Thought for the Day – 23 July – The Memorial of St Bridget of Sweden (c 1303 – 1373)
The gift of mystical prayer, an experience of a special union with God in love, was given to Bridget. She often had visions of Christ’s passion. However, Bridget was also very practical in living out the Gospel.
After her husband’s death, Bridget founded an order of nuns known as the Bridgetines, who contributed to the culture of Scandinavia. She showed loving concern for people who were poor and sick and many people came to her for help. Bridget made pilgrimages around Italy and even to the Holy Land. She spent her last years in Rome. She urged the pope to leave Avignon in France and return to Rome.
Bridget’s visions, rather than isolating her from the affairs of the world, involved her in many contemporary issues, whether they be royal policy or the years that the legitimate Bishop of Rome lived in Avignon, France. She saw no contradiction between mystical experience and secular activity and her life is a testimony to the possibility of a holy life in the marketplace.
In 1999, Bridget, Saints Catherine of Siena and Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, were named co-patronesses of Europe, together with the co-patrons, St Benedict of Nursia and Sts Cyril and Methodius (the latter two were added in 1980).