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July 23

St Bridget of Sweden - July 23 - Altarpiece in Salem church, Södermanland, Sweden (digitally restored)

Saint Saint Bridget of Sweden

Wife, Mother,
Founder of Brigettines

(1302 or 1303 – 1373)

“There is no sinner in the world, however much at enmity with God,who cannot recover God’s grace by recourse to Mary, and by asking her assistance.”

Saint Bridget of Sweden

Her Birth

Bridget was born in 1302 or 1303 in Finsta Castle, Uppsala, Sweden. The exact date of her birth is not recorded. Her father was Birger Persson, the governor and provincial judge of Uppland and one of the greatest landowners in the country. Her mother, Ingeborg Bengtsdotter, was known widely for her piety. Her family were descendants of the Swedish royal house and were related to Saint Ingrid of Sweden.

Her Special Youth

From childhood, the Lord granted Bridget special graces, visions and an extraordinary understanding of divine mysteries. At age seven, she had a vision of the Crucified Jesus in all the suffering and sorrow of his Passion, which enkindled within her a deep devotion for our Savior.

Married at Age 13

Her mother died around 1315 when Bridget was about twelve years old. So, she was raised and educated by an equally pious aunt. At age 13, Bridget married Ulf Gudmarsson, a prince, who was then eighteen. They lived happily together for twenty-eight years and had eight children, among them Saint Catherine of Sweden. However, some of her other children ignored the Church. Bridget convinced her husband, by her own example, to live a life of piety and to strive for holiness.

Friend and Counselor

Bridget was a friend and counselor to many priests and theologians of her day. At age 32, Bridget became the lady-in-waiting to Queen Blanche of Namur and King Magnus II of Sweden. From her position as lady-in-waiting. Bridget counseled and guided the Queen and King. She was known for her charitable acts, especially caring for the sick. However, the royalty appeared more content to admire Bridget’s piety rather than to follow her example.

A Widow

After her youngest son died in 1340, Bridget and her husband went on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella, Spain. On the return trip, Ulf became quite ill. So, they returned home soon afterwards. Upon their return, Ulf entered the Cistercian monastery in Östergötland, Sweden and died there at the age of 46. Bridget became a widow at age 41.

Religious Life

After her husband’s death in 1344, Bridget pursued a religious life. For this pursuit, she was harassed by others at the court. Eventually, Bridget renounced her title of princess. Instead, Bridget became a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis. In this position, she devoted herself to a life of prayer and caring for the poor and the sick.

Founder of the Bridgettines Religious Order

At this time, Bridget’s visions became more frequent and intense. She began to wonder if they were from the devil. However, God assured her that they were not, but that she was to become His bride and his mouthpiece. Bridget was a mystic, visionary, and mystical writer. She recorded the revelations given her in her visions. These recordings became hugely popular in the Middle Ages.

It was His voice in her visions that dictated to her to found a new religious order, even specifying the details of the Rule for that order. In 1346 in Vadstena, Sweden, Bridget founded The Order of the Most Holy Savior, or Bridgettines, which consisted of a double monastery for both men and women. King Magnus and his queen generously supported the monastery. Any surplus of money they received was given to the poor and used to provide books for study.

The Bridgettine Order received confirmation by Pope Blessed Urban V in 1370 after Bridget braved a plague-stricken Europe to make a pilgrimage to Rome accompanied by her daughter, Saint Catherine of Sweden. The Bridgettines order still survives today, though few houses remain.

Fifteen ‘Our Father and Hail Mary’ Prayers

Bridget encouraged all who would listen to meditate on the Passion, and of Jesus Crucified. For a long time, Bridget prayed to know how many blows Jesus Christ suffered during His terrible Passion. Rewarding her patience, one day He appeared to Bridget 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.

Pilgrimage to Holy Land

Directed by God to go the Holy Land in 1371, Bridget set out on pilgrimage with her daughter, Catherine, two of her sons, and other pilgrims. Her son Charles died in Naples, Italy on the way there. Although they were nearly shipwrecked, they made it there where Bridget was blessed with extraordinary graces. In the Holy Land, Bridget received detailed visions of episodes in the life of Jesus in the places where they were said to have occurred. She also admonished the people of Cyprus and Naples for their immoral ways, with little effect.

Her Death

Bridget arrived back in Rome early already ill. She died on July 23, 1373, at the age of seventy – one in Rome, Italy. Her remains were taken back to the monastery at Sweden.

Born :                   1302 or 1303 in Finsta Castle, Uppsala, Sweden

Died:                    July 23, 1373 in Rome, Italy

Beatified:            Unknown

Canonized:         October 7, 1391 by Pope Boniface IX

Feast Day:          July 23, formerly October 8

Patron Saint:     Europe; Sweden; Widows

Source:

Reflection 

Saint Bridget of Sweden, you had the joy of married life with eight children. Your daughter, Catherine of Sweden, followed in your pious footsteps to go onto also become a Saint. However, it is stated that you also had the heartbreak of some of your children not following the Catholic Church. While our daughters and/or sons may not be saints, we may have experienced the disappointment of these children and/or grandchilden not continuing in the Catholic Church.

Pray today for those you know who have fallen away from the Church that our example and just maybe a simple request may bring our loved ones back to the Church.

 

Prayers

Saint Bridget of Sweden, you were a model of compassion, advocating for justice and showing love to the needy. Help us to emulate your generous spirit, that we may be instruments of God’s love and mercy in the world.

As a wife and mother, you understood the importance of family, intercede for all families today, that they may be filled with love, understanding, and faith and that all family members outside of the Church may return to it.

Saint Bridget of Sweden, pray for us. Amen.

 

 

Saint Links 

Aleteia – Why St. Bridget of Sweden was named a patron saint of Europe

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Bridget of Sweden – Widow

AnaStpaul – St Bridget of Sweden (c 1303-1373) Widow

Bartleby – Rev. Alban Butler Volume X: October. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. October 8 St. Bridget of Sweden, Widow

Catholic Exchange – St. Bridget of Sweden

Catholic Herald – The saint who established the Bridgettine monasteries

Catholic Ireland – Jul 23 – St Bridget of Sweden (1303-73) co-patroness of Europe

Catholic News Agency – St. Bridget of Sweden Feast day: Jul 23

Catholic Online – St. Bridget of Sweden

Fifteen Prayers of St Bridget

Franciscan Media – Saint Bridget of Sweden

Independent Catholic News – St Bridget of Sweden

Loyola Press – Saint Bridget (of Sweden) Feast day July 23

My Catholic Life – July 23: Saint Bridget of Sweden, Religious

New Advent – Kirsch, J.P. (1907). St. Bridget of Sweden. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

RC Spirituality (Uncle Eddy) – St Bridget

Roman Catholic Saints – Saint Bridget of Sweden

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint Bridget (1303-1373)

Saints, Feast, Family – Saint Bridget of Sweden’s Story

Sanctoral – Saint Bridget of Sweden Widow (1302-1373)

uCatholic – Saint Bridget’s Vision of The 5,480 Wounds on Jesus Christ

Vatican – General Audience of Pope Benedict XVI October 27, 2010 – Saint Bridget of Sweden

Video Link

Cradio Saint of the Day: Saint Bridget of Sweden – YouTube (CatholicSaints.Info)

Saint of the Day — Bridget of Sweden — July 23rd – YouTube (Church Militant)

15 Prayers of St Bridget of Sweden | Pieta – YouTube (Living The Faith)