Bridgit, Abbey of
BRIDGIT, ABBEY OF
A former foundation of brigittine sisters, situated on Lake Vättern, Östergötland, Sweden, in the former Diocese of Linköping. It is the mother abbey of the Bridget-tine Order and was built according to the directions of St. bridget c. 1365 on the royal estate of Vadstena, which was willed to her in 1346 by King Magnus Eriksson. The first abbess was Bridget's daughter, St. catherine of sweden, who reestablished the community in 1374. The work was favored by a special fee, Our Lady's pence, and in 1384 the abbey was consecrated by the diocesan bishop. According to Bridget's plan the abbey should have a nuns' and a monks' convent under an abbess as the common leader, with a general confessor at her side and visitation rights granted to the bishop of Linköping. Bridget's corpse was moved from Rome to the site in 1374, and in the later Middle Ages the tombs of the saint and her daughter became the main destination for pilgrims in Sweden. With its more than 900 estates, Vadstena was the richest abbey in Scandinavia; a large income was further derived from the Vincula (feast of St. Peter in Chains), the portiuncula, as well as the Jubilee indul gences, title to which the abbey had acquired. This foundation had one of the largest libraries in Scandinavia, from which about 450 volumes are extant, housed in the University Library of Uppsala and the Royal Library at Stockholm. Among these there may be mentioned the Diarium Vazstenense for the years 1344 to 1545 (Codex Ups. C 89) and a copy book preserved in the State Archives in Stockholm. Great literary and artistic impulses emanated from Vadstena, and the abbey, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, became a center for the Marian devotion in Sweden. The originator of the weekly ritual of the nuns, the Cantus sororum ordinis Sancti Salvatoris, was Magister Petrus Olavi (d. 1378), a man of saintly reputation. The house in Rome where Bridget died was purchased by the abbey and used as a hospital for pilgrims. When the Protestant reformation reached Sweden the importance of the abbey ceased, and in 1595 it was formally dissolved. The church is now used as the town church of Vadstena, and parts of the former buildings, among them the original royal estate, are still preserved.
Bibliography: r. geete, ed., Jungfru Marie örtagård (Stockholm 1895). e. nygren, ed., Diarium Vadstenense (Copenhagen 1963). h. cnattingius, Studies in the Order of St. Bridget of Sweden (Stockholm 1963–). t. hÖjer, Studier i Vadstena klosters och Birgittinordens historia intill midten af 1400–talet (Uppsala 1905). a. lindblom, Johann III och Vadstena nunnekloster (Lund 1961); Kult och konst i Vadstena kloster (Stockholm 1965). l. a. norborg, Storföretaget Vadstena kloster (Lund 1958). t. nyberg, Birgittinische Klostergründungen des Mittelalters (Lund 1965).