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Saint Bridget of Sweden

Widow.

Bridget of Sweden was born about the year 1304, of parents who were both princely and godly. She did not begin to talk until she was three years old, and then at once she spake plain, and not after the confused manner of a child, thus foreshewing that clearness of speech and purpose which made her remarkable in later years. When she was ten years of age, she heard a sermon on the sufferings of our Lord, and the following night she thought she saw, in vision, the Lord Jesus on the cross, who spake to her of his passion and death. Thenceforth she had a most tender devotion to him, and all her life long she meditated much on these matters. Before she was fifteen she was given in marriage to Ulf, Prince of Nierck, who was himself about eighteen, and they lived in great happiness together for eight and twenty years; and God gave them four sons and four daughters, one of whom was that blessed maiden who is venerated as Saint Catherine of Sweden. Bridget ever moved her husband to godly works, and toward her children she shewed a most motherly care. To the sick and poor also she was a mother.

About 1335 she was chosen chief-lady-in-waiting to the Queen of Sweden. And when she found the royal household full of wickedness, she tried, but in vain, to induce the King to purge it of these things. Therefore she returned to her own home, and then she and her husband went on a pilgrimage to Compostella, and other great Christian shrines. But on the way back Ulf fell grievously ill, and they two were moved to promise God that he would become a Cistercian monk if his life were spared. Which same came about, and Ulf returned to Sweden, settled his affairs, and finally was clothed in the Cistercian habit, and shortly thereafter died. This was in the year 1344, and meanwhile Bridget had also taken upon herself a harder life, and finally at Wadstena she founded a house of nuns, from which arose the famous Order of Bridgettines. It was during this period that Bridget, under the direction of certain learned and godly priests, began to write down the various visions of which she was believed to have been the recipient from God. These same have become one of the treasures of mystical writing, and as such were approved by the Council of Basle. Howbeit, lest this approval be misunderstood, Benedict XIV wrote thereof in these words: We cannot give these revelations the assent of divine faith, but only that of human belief, according to the dictates of prudence, whenever these dictates enable us to decide that they are probable, and worthy of devout credence.

But the regard in which this valiant woman was held, and the mighty works which she had ever done for God, and the charm and godliness of her speech, made her counsel much sought after by princes and ecclesiastics throughout Europe. In particular she strove to bring back the Pope from Avignon to his rightful place of residence at Rome. She therefore went to Rome, with her holy daughter Catherine, and worked for reform in that great city which, without a chief shepherd, had become degraded beyond measure. There she cared tenderly for the poor and lowly. But she feared not also to rebuke the rich and highly-placed, and even princes of the Church. She finally had the joy of seeing the return of the Pope to Rome; and after his death, when his successor chose to live at Avignon, she thrice wrote to him to return, which he did four years after her death. She died in Rome on July 23rd, 1373, and her body was afterwards taken to Sweden, and buried in the Abbey of Wadstena which she had founded. She was canonized in 1391, and is venerated as the Patroness of Sweden.

Collect

O LORD our God, who, through thy Son didst reveal to thy blessed Saint Bridget the secrets of the kingdom of heaven: grant, we pray thee; that by her devout intercession we thy servants may rejoice in the revelation of thy everlasting glory. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Anglican Breviary, Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation, Inc., New York, 1955, pages 1486-1487

Additional Information:

For additional readings, or to learn more about the Anglican Breviary, visit The Anglican Breviary Website.

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