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Catherine of Sweden (c. 1330–1381)

Catherine of Sweden (c. 1330–1381)

Swedish saint. Name variations: Karin. Born in 1330 or 1331 in Sweden; died on March 24, 1381 at Vadstena (or Wadstena), Sweden; daughter of (Saint)Bridget of Sweden (1303–1373) and Sir Ulf Gudmarsson, prince of Nericia (a knight); married Count Eggard, a Swedish knight (widowed); no children.

Holy woman and saint, Catherine of Sweden was the beloved daughter of Saint Bridget of Sweden . Bridget first raised the family and then began a second career as a religious reformer and mystic; Catherine was the only one of her siblings to follow her mother's religious path so closely. She married but her husband, a Swedish noble, did not live long. Deciding against remarriage, the childless widow then became her mother's most important ally in the religious work they both felt called to perform. Catherine was usually overshadowed by her mother's tremendous fame, but achieved a reputation for herself as equally committed to the faith and to serving others. Mother and daughter traveled across Europe together on pilgrimages, and even rode as far as Jerusalem, a popular destination for adventurous European Christians. Like Bridget, Catherine became an important political voice in the struggle over returning the pope to Rome from Avignon.

After Bridget's death, Catherine of Sweden remained influential, establishing the Birgittine order of nuns as her mother had wished. Later she moved to the abbey of Vadstena as a nun, where she became known as a healer and miracle worker. Her final efforts were devoted to achieving her mother's canonization, testifying on Bridget's behalf before ecclesiastical courts in Rome. After her own death around age 51, Catherine of Sweden was canonized for her crucial reforming work and untiring devotion to serving others. Her feast day is March 24.

Laura York , Riverside, California

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