St. Bridget (Brigid, Birgitta, Brigitta) was born in 1303 to one of the richest landowners in Sweden and his wife. Through her mother, Bridget was related to the Swedish kings of her time. But royalty isn’t her claim to fame — she is recognized as one of the six patron saints of Europe. She’s also the most celebrated saint of Sweden.
When Bridget was twelve years old, her mother died. She was then raised by her aunt at Aspenäs. At age fourteen, Bridget married Ulf Gudmarsson, a Swedish prince, with whom she had eight children (the future St. Catherine of Sweden among them). Bridget was happily married to Ulf for 28 years until his death in 1344. After his passing, Bridget joined the Third Order of St. Francis and spent her life praying and caring for the sick and impoverished.
Throughout her life, Bridget received spiritual graces in the form of visions and revelations. These started when she was ten years old and had a vision of Jesus hanging on the cross. The experience left such an impression on her that the Passion of Christ became the center of her spiritual life. Her later visions of the Nativity of Jesus greatly influenced the way the Nativity Scene was portrayed in art. Additionally, her prophecies and revelations became well-known in Rome.
Perhaps Bridget’s greatest contribution was one she made to the religious life. She founded the monastery of Wadstena, Sweden, and the Order of the Most Holy Trinity, the Brigittines (approved by Bl. Pope Urban V in 1370). Both of these became the intellectual center of Sweden in her time. There are several branches of Brigittines still in existence today.
Of all the hats she wore — mother, wife, pilgrim, royal, religious — it’s clear Bridget valued her role as a daughter of God above all else. Our only earthly fulfillment lies in serving God’s kingdom. St. Bridget, pray for us!
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