1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bridget of Sweden, Saint

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BRIDGET, Brigitta, Birgitta, OF SWEDEN, SAINT (c. 1302-1373), the most celebrated saint of the northern kingdoms, was the daughter of Birger Persson, governor and lagman (provincial judge) of Uppland, and one of the richest landowners of the country. In 1316 she was married to Ulf Gudmarson, lord of Nericia, to whom she bore eight children, one of whom was afterwards honoured as St Catherine of Sweden. Bridget's saintly and charitable life soon made her known far and wide; she gained, too, great religious influence over her husband, with whom (1341-1343) she went on pilgrimage to St James of Compostella. In 1344, shortly after their return, Ulf died in the Cistercian monastery of Alvastra in East Gothland, and Bridget now devoted herself wholly to religion. As a child she had already believed herself to have visions; these now became more frequent, and her records of these "revelations," which were translated into Latin by Matthias, canon of Linköping, and by her confessor, Peter, prior of Alvastra, obtained a great vogue during the middle ages. It was about this time that she founded the order of St Saviour, or BRIDGITTINES (q.v.), of which the principal house, at Vadstena, was richly endowed by King Magnus II. and his queen. About 1350 she went to Rome, partly to obtain from the pope the authorization of the new order, partly in pursuance of her self-imposed mission to elevate the moral tone of the age. It was not till 1370 that Pope Urban V. confirmed the rule of her order; but meanwhile Bridget had made herself universally beloved in Rome by her kindness and good works. Save for occasional pilgrimages, including one to Jerusalem in 1373, she remained in Rome till her death on the 23rd of July 1373. She was canonized in 1391 by Pope Boniface IX., and her feast is celebrated on the 9th of October.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Cf. the Bollandist Acta Sanctorum, Oct. 8, iv. 368-560.
  • the Vita Sanctae Brigittae, edited by C. Annerstedt in Scriptores rerum Suedicarum medii aevi, iii. 185-244 (Upsala, 1871). The best modern work on the subject is by the comtesse Catherine de Flavigny, entitled Sainte Brigitte de Suède, sa vie, ses révélations et son œuvre (Paris, 1892), which contains an exhaustive bibliography. The Revelations are contained in the critical edition of St Bridget's works published by the Swedish Historical Society and edited by G.E. Klemming (Stockholm, 1857-1884, II vols.). For full bibliography (to 1904) see Ulysse Chevalier, Répertoire des sources hist. Bio.-Bibl., s.v. "Brigitte."