Saint Brigid Religious Education
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West Hartford, CT 06110

St. Bridget of Sweden

Feast day: July 23

Bridget was the most celebrated saint of the Northern kingdoms She was born about 1303 and died July 23, 1373. She was the daughter of Birger Persson, governor and provincial judge (Lagman) of Uppland, and of Ingeborg Bengtsdotter. Her father was one of the wealthiest landholders of the country. She was like her mother, distinguished by deep piety.

Bridget received a careful religious training, and from her seventh year showed signs of extraordinary religious impressions and illuminations. To her education, and particularly to the influence of an aunt who took the place of Bridget's mother after she died (c. 1315), she owed that unswerving strength of will which later distinguished her.

In 1316, at the age of thirteen, she was united in marriage to Ulf Gudmarsson, who was then eighteen. She acquired great influence over her noble and pious husband, and the happy marriage was blessed with eight children, among them St. Catherine of Sweden. The saintly life and the great charity of Bridget soon made her name known far and wide. She was acquainted with several learned and pious theologians. She was later at the court of King Magnus Eriksson, over whom she gradually acquired great influence.

Early in the forties (1341-43) in company with her husband she made a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella. On the return journey her husband was stricken with an attack of illness, but recovered sufficiently to finish the journey. Shortly afterwards, however, he died (1344). Bridget now devoted herself entirely to practices of religion and asceticism, and to religious undertakings. The visions which she believed herself to have had from her early childhood now became more frequent and definite. She believed that Christ Himself appeared to her, and she wrote down the revelations she then received, which were in great repute during the Middle Ages. They were translated into Latin by Matthias Magister and Prior Peter.

St. Bridget now founded a new religious congregation, the Brigittines, or Order of St. Saviour, whose chief monastery, at Vadstena, was richly endowed by King Magnus and his queen (1346). To obtain confirmation for her institute, and at the same time to seek a larger sphere of activity for her mission, she journeyed to Rome in 1349, and remained there until her death, except while absent on pilgrimages to the Holy Land in 1373. In August, 1370, Pope Urban V confirmed the Rule of her congregation. She accomplished the greatest good in Rome.

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