Saint Bridget of Sweden
Saint Bridget was born into the Swedish royal family in the year 1302, the daughter of very virtuous Christian parents. More than one prophetic episode attended the birth of Bridget, whose voice would be heard with admiration by the entire world, according to a bishop of her country. Curiously, for three years she said not a word, then began to speak with facility and clarity, like persons of mature years. At the age of seven, after her mother had died, she beheld the Mother of God, who presented her with a beautiful crown. She became sober, modest, candid, humble, and peaceful. At the age of ten she saw Our Lord as He was on the Cross, and she began to meditate constantly on the mysteries of the Passion, while occupying herself exteriorly with needlework.
In obedience to her father, she was married to Prince Ulpho of Sweden. Saint Bridget became the mother of eight children, four boys and four girls, one of whom, Saint Catherine of Sweden, is honored as a Saint. Their four sons died young, two during one of the crusades. After some years she and her husband separated by mutual consent; he entered the Cistercian Order, where he died thirty years before his holy spouse. After his death, her life became still more austere; for her guide she had a celebrated Doctor of Theology, a Canon of the cathedral of Linkoeping. Severe for herself, Saint Bridget remained gentle for the poor and nourished twelve persons every day, serving them herself; she established hospices for the sick and the convalescent. She founded the Order of the Holy Saviour for sixty nuns, at the Abbey of Wastein or Wadstena in Sweden.
Saint Bridget received a series of sublime revelations, all of which she scrupulously submitted to the judgment of her confessor. During a famous pilgrimage which she made to Rome at the command of her Lord, He dictated to her the Fifteen Prayers of Saint Bridget, in honor of His Passion. Saint Bridget also went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land with her daughter, Saint Catherine, and amid the very scenes of the Passion was further instructed in the sacred mysteries. She died in Rome, after her return from this pilgrimage, in 1373.
Reflection: Saint Bridget appreciated in an extraordinary way the grace of the Sacrament of Penance. Is confession a matter of much time or expense? asks Saint John Chrysostom. Is it a difficult and painful remedy? Without cost or hurt, this medicine is ever ready to restore you to perfect health.
Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 12; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).