Bridget of Sweden, St.

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Patron saint of Sweden and foundress of the brid gettines; b. Upland, principal province of Sweden, 1302 or 1303; d. Rome, 1373. The daughter of Birger, Governor of Upland, and his second wife, Ingeborg, Bridget married Ulf Gudmarsson when she was about 14 years of age. One of their eight children was St. catherine of sweden. For two years Bridget was lady in waiting to Blanche of Namur, wife of King Magnus II, and attempted to win the young royal couple to holiness. After Ulf's death in 1344, she lived as a penitent near the Cistercian monastery at Alvastra. Visions and revelations, which she had first experienced in childhood, became more frequent and began to be written down.

In 1346 Magnus endowed a double monastery at Vadstena, where she established her order, and Urban V confirmed the rule of her congregation in 1370. Bridget went to Rome in 1349, and for the rest of her life remained there, except for traveling on various pilgrimages in Italy and on a long journey to the Holy Land, undertaken in 1371. Her canonization by Boniface IX (Oct. 7, 1391) was confirmed in 1415. To an Englishwoman, Margery Kempe, Bridget's maid confided that her lady had been "kind and meek to every creature and that she had a laughing face."

Along with her penitential practices and her charitable works for the poor and humble, she devoted herself to urging reforms within the Church. She denounced abuses of bishops and abbots and advised princes and kings on political matters. She was especially concerned for the return to Rome of the Avignon popes, and for 20 years she admonished them to do so. Revelations and prophecies frequently supported her various causes. Because of their celebrity, the written accounts and subsequent editions of her revelations have been the subject of much theological examination and textual criticism.

Feast: Oct. 8.

Bibliography: b. morris, St. Birgitta of Sweden (Wood-bridge, England 1999). j. b. holloway, Saint Bride and Her Book: Birgitta of Sweden's Revelations (Newburyport, Mass. 1992). m. t. harris, Birgitta of Sweden: Life and Selected Writings (Mahwah, N.J. 1990). j. hogg, ed., Studies in St. Birgitta and the Brigittine Order (Lewiston, N.Y. 1993).

[m. s. conlan]

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Bridget of Sweden, St.

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