Friday, July 23, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Bridget of Sweden

Bridget was born in either 1302 or 1303 at Finsta Castle, Uppsala, Sweden. Her father was Birger Persson, "the governor and provincial judge of Uppland," and her mother was Ingeborg Bengtsdotter, a pious woman. The family lived in well-to-do circumstances and were descended from the Swedish royal house. Bridget was a relative of St. Ingrid of Sweden.

Bridget's mother passed away when the child was only twelve and the girl was thereafter raised by an aunt.

One year later, at the age of thirteen, Bridget was married to Ulfo of Nercia. They had eight children together, one of whom was St. Catherine of Sweden, though some of the other children abandoned the Church.

Bridget had begun receiving visions from Our Lord, most of His crucifixion, at the age of seven. Throughout her life Bridget counseled and befriended many priests and theologians. She also rebuked Popes Clement VI, Gregory XI, and Urban VI for living at Avignon when the seat of the papacy is in Rome. Bridget was honored to hold the position of chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Blanche of Namur, from which position she was able to advise the King and Queen.

She was also able to influence her husband in religious matters, and the two made a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Shortly after their return in 1344, Ulfo took ill and passed away in the Cistercian monastery of Alvastra.

Bridget now turned to the religious life and renounced her title as princess. She began to record her visions which, at this time, became more frequent. In 1346 Bridget founded the Order of the Most Holy Saviour, sometimes called Bridgettines, at Vadstena, Sweden. The king and queen, due to their close relationship with Bridget, lent their support to the order.

Bridget travelled to Rome in 1350 to seek Papal authorization for her order, which she received in 1370. She spent most of her remaining years in Rome but made a pilgrimage to the Holy land near the end of her life.

St. Bridget passed away on July 23, 1373 in Rome and was buried at her convent in Vadstena, Sweden. She was canonized on October 7, 1391 by Pope Boniface IX. St. Bridget is the patroness: of Europe; of Sweden; and of widows.

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