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Bridget of Sweden, FEAST DAY JULY 23

Although officially a patroness of Europe and Sweden, St. Bridget could also be unofficially called the "Patroness of Failure," as much of what she set out to do in her lifetime did not come to fruition until after her death. Such setbacks, however, did not deter her from pursuing what she felt God was calling her to do; in her own day, she lived out what Blessed Mother Teresa would say centuries later: "God does not require that we be successful, only that we be faithful."

St. Bridget of Sweden was born into a family of wealth, position and, thanks to her parents, deep piety as well. In 1310, at about the age of seven, she began to have visions of Christ's Passion, which affected her deeply and served as her spiritual guide for the rest of her life. When she turned thirteen – as was customary for the time – she was married to Ulf Gudmarsson; the marriage proved to be a happy one, and together the couple had eight children, all of whom survived childhood.

When the King of Sweden, Magnus Eriksson, married the young Blanche of Namur, he asked his kinswoman, Bridget, to come to Court with her family to serve as Lady-in-Waiting to the new queen. For years, Bridget not only fulfilled those duties, but sought to exert a Christian influence over Magnus. Although never reforming as completely as Bridget had hoped, the king donated land and buildings to Bridget to be used as a monastery for the religious order she eventually founded.

In 1344, Bridget's beloved husband, Ulf, died after the two made a long pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Now a widow whose children had grown, Bridget arranged her worldly affairs and waited for God to tell her what the next phase of her life would entail. What He asked was that she found a religious order for women that would help revive a decaying Church, as this was the time of the Avignon Papacy (1309 - 1377) when, due to adverse political conditions, the pope resided, not in Rome, but in southern France.

Bridget had barely begun organizing the new monastery when God had a further request of her; she was to depart from Sweden, journey to Rome, and remain there until she could persuade the pope to leave France (and France's political influence over Church affairs). She and her daughter, Catherine of Sweden, who would become a saint in her own right, set out during the Holy Year of 1350; they both hoped that, while on this journey, they could also secure papal approval for their new religious order.

It would be twenty years before such approval came. In the meantime, despite financial and physical hardship, both Bridget and her daughter spent their time caring for the poor in Rome. For her part, Bridget continued to experience visions, which focused on both the Passion of Christ and the reform of the Church. These latter messages were not particularly well received by those in power, and Bridget was often harassed for attempting to curb their abuses.

Bridget would never see her beloved Sweden again, nor did she see the return of the pope to Rome – that would not happen until 1377, four years after her death in 1373. She would also never set eyes on the convent she had begun, although her remains were brought there for burial in 1374. Yet despite all the seeming failures in her life, Bridget was still a success, inasmuch as she always sought to do God's will. Her feast day is celebrated July 23.

 

Source. for this article:

www.americancatholic.org
www.catholiconline.com

Schreck, Alan. "Catholic Church History from A to z." Ann Arbor, Michigan Servant 2002.
"Saint Bridget of Sweden." CatholicSaints.lnfo. 27 January 2016.
Kirsch, Johann Peter. "St. Bridget of Sweden." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York Pobert Appleton Company, 1907.

Last modified onFriday, 15 July 2016 04:01
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