Monday, July 23, 2007

St. Bridget

St. Bridget of Sweden
(1303-1373)
According to www.maryvale.ac.uk/brigettines.htm,
St Bridget of Sweden is best known as author of a book of "Revelation" and as the foundress of the Order of the Most Holy Saviour. She was born at Finsta in Sweden in 1303. From childhood the Lord granted her special graces, visions and an extraordinary understanding of divine realities. At a very early age she had a vision of the crucified Jesus in all the tragedy of his Passion, and she felt enkindled in her soul a profound devotion to the Saviour. This devotion would later become a precious heritage of the Bridgettine Order, as expressed in its motto" Amor Meus Crucifixus Est".

Bridget married at age thirteen out of obedience to her parents, though she would rather have entered monastic life. She was the mother of eight children whom she raised with exemplary care in the Christian faith. She travelled as a pilgrim to many shrines together with her husband who, upon returning from a visit to Santiago de Compostela, entered the Cistercians of Alvastra in Sweden, where he lived for two years before his death.

Remaining at Alvastra following her husband’s death, Bridget joined the Franciscan Third Order, and while remaining in the world she devoted herself to a more ascetic life through the practise of penance, a life of poverty and zealous work in helping the poor, the needy and the infirm. Assiduously devoted to prayer, she had numerous visions of the Saviour, who asked her to establish a new monastic Order and to travel to Rome in order to await the return of the Pope from Avignon. For the fulfilment of this latter intention she offered constant prayers, practised mortifications and made urgent appeals to the Pope to return to his See in Rome.

Bridget moved to Rome in the company of a small group of priests and friends in 1349. Her virtuous life was an example to all, and she made many penitential pilgrimages The last of these, which she made at an advanced age, was to the Holy Land, after she had seen the return of the Pope to Rome. A prophetess of God, she vehemently denounced the sins of the people. The house where she lived and her church, in Piazza Farnese, are a place of pilgrimage and prayer, especially for Nordic visitors.

Bridget wrote many works in which she recounted her own mystical experiences. She died on 23 July 1373, on the same table she used for writing and for taking her frugal meals with the poor, thus imitating her Saviour who died on the wood of the Cross. The aspects of Mary’s life upon which Saint Bridget carefully meditated are her Immaculate Conception, her sufferings at the foot of the Cross and the mystery of Nazareth, where the Blessed Virgin is present as "Mother and Teacher of all" Bridget was canonized on 7 October 1391.

In many ways her life can be seen as a model for the religious life, a model of a strong mother may stand for all women and all Christians. Because of her great love for Christ and for the Church she became a fearless tutor for the Church and secular leaders of her day.

Although the ordo have a brief description of the life of St. Bridget of Sweden, I decided to look for more information because one of the non-sectarian school here is named after her. The faculty and the Parents Teacher Association (PTA) asked me to celebrate a Mass in the said school.


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