Saint Bridget of Sweden

Feast Day 23 July, Patron of Sweden

by A.K., a high school student in Northern Virginia

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Bridget was born between 1302 and 1303 at Finsta Castle in Sweden.  Her father was the governor of Upland and her mother was the daughter of the governor of East Gothland.  Bridget had many brothers and sisters.  In 1315, Bridget's mother died and she was sent to live with her Aunt in the small town of Aspenas. 

Bridget had a pleasant childhood but did not begin talking until she was nearly three years old.  After she learned how to speak, she was reputed to have spoken, "Quite clearly with no hesitation, rather than confusedly like a child, and her goodness and devotion matched her speech." 

As a seven-year-old, she had a vision of being crowned by Mary.  When she was ten, she was profoundly touched by a sermon regarding the Passion of Christ and the following night had another vision.  She saw Christ hanging on the cross and he told her, "Look upon me, my daughter."  She replied, "My Lord, who has treated you this way?"  Christ replied, "Those who despise me and spurn my love for them."  This vision influenced her entire life and always reminded her of the importance of a strong spiritual life.

t fourteen Bridget married Ulf Gudmarsson who was then only eighteen.   They lived happily as husband and wife for 28 years on her husband's estate at Ulfassa.  Bridget was content to be a feudal lady.  From their marriage there were eight children.  One daughter named Catherine, would later become a saint.

In 1335, Bridget was appointed the principal lady-in-waiting to Queen Blanche of Namur, the new wife of King Magnus II of Sweden.  Bridget found the king an inept ruler and mean-spirited.  The queen was kind but preoccupied with material goods.  Bridget tried her hardest to lead them to God more deeply by telling them of her visions, but with little effect.  A popular joke at the court was, "What was the Lady Bridget dreaming about last night?"  During this time, Bridget also suffered her own personal trials.  Her oldest daughter married an ill-mannered, unruly nobleman, and her son Gudmar died.  She took leave from the court to make a pilgrimage with her husband to Santiago de Compestella.  On their return, he became gravely ill and all seemed hopeless.  Bridget prayed diligently for his recovery.  After many long prayers, he received a vision of Saint Denis and temporarily recovered only to die a short time later. 

During all this time her visions had continued.  One in particular informed her that if King Magnus did not change his ways he would suffer for eternity in hell.  She informed him of this vision and he repented and as a gesture of gratitude endowed a monastery for her on the shores of Lake Vattern.

The monastery housed sixty nuns and in a separate enclosure, monks, priest, deacons, and brothers.  The new community was named the Order of the Most Holy Savior, or the Bridgettines.  All the extra income of the order was donated to the poor.  Its members expected to study and were free to own their own books.  Because of this policy, St. Bridget's monastery became the center of Sweden's intellectual life. 

In 1349, she journeyed frequently to Rome to help the poor and encourage the pope to leave his residence in France and return to Italy.  In 1373, she returned to Rome, took sick and soon died.  Her body was taken to Vadstena where it was buried.


The life of St. Bridget was not always easy, but very inspiring.  Her family underwent many tribulations, but her desire to share the passion of Christ with others was a constant driving force.  She not only founded an order of nuns but also authored a book titled, " Revelations".  She may not have confronted any military foe, but she fought a constant battle against poverty and corruption.  We can imitate St. Bridget in our own lives by spreading the word of God and persevering through difficult situations.


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