Pray with Today's Saint

St. Bridget of Sweden

7/23/2014

Bridget of Sweden was a mystic saint whose visions helped guide the Church in the 14th century.

She was born in 1303 to a family who was related to the royal house of Sweden. Her father was a regional governor and a judge, and both of her parents were pious. They would receive the sacraments frequently and went on pilgrimages as far away as the Holy Land.

When Bridget was 10, her mother died. Along with two younger siblings, she was raised by an aunt, who was just as faithful as her mother.

While she still was a young girl, Bridget started to receive visions, mostly seeing Jesus on the cross. She asked Jesus who had done this to him, and he replied, “All those who despise my love.” The vision left a deep impression on her and profoundly shaped her spirituality. She continued to receive visions during her whole life.

When she was 13, she was married according to the custom of the time, and the couple bore eight children. One daughter was eventually canonized St. Catherine of Sweden.

She and her husband went on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Her husband became dangerously ill on the journey, but was healed when Bridget received a vision from St. Denis, who told her that she would do great works.

The King of Sweden appointed Bridget as lady-in-waiting to his queen, and from this position, Bridget counseled the king and queen, as well as many priests and theologians.

When her husband became ill again, Bridget took him to a monastery for care. He died and was buried there, and Bridget remained at the monastery in a small room, praying and grieving. She prayed for guidance, and received a revelation that she was to establish a new religious order.

She renounced her title as princess and her role at court, and was mocked for this decision. As soon as she had begun organizing the new order of nuns, she received another vision that directed her to go to Rome, to encourage the pope to return there from Avignon, France, where the papacy was located due to a conflict with the French crown. She spent the rest of her life as a pilgrim in Rome, writing of her visions and counseling kings and popes (she is sometimes known as Bridget of Rome). Her accounts of the revelations she was given in her visions and prayer were popular through the Middle Ages.

She did not see any of her major works completed—she left Sweden before the abbey she founded was completed, and she did not live to see the pope return to Rome. She is known as the patroness of failures, even though both of these endeavors saw success after her death on this date in 1373 in Rome.

The religious order she founded is still active today, known as the Bridgettines, and she is patron of Europe and of Sweden. Her relics rest in the reliquary chapel of the Basilica, and she is also depicted in these stained glass windows there.

St. Bridget of Sweden, the mother and mystic known as the “patroness of failures,” pray for us!