Saints Bio: St. Brigit of Sweden
Brigit (Bridget) is the most celebrated saint of Sweden was the daughter of the knight Birger Persson of the family of Finsta, governor and Lawspeaker of Uppland, and one of the richest landowners of the country, and his wife, a member of the so-called Lawspeaker branch of the Folkunga family. Through her mother, Ingeborg, Birgitta was related to the Swedish kings of her era. She was born in June 1303. There is no exact recording for which precise date. In 1316, at the age of 14 she married Ulf Gudmarsson of the family of Ulvasa, Lord of Narke, to whom she bore eight children, four daughters and four sons. Six survived infancy, which was rare at that time. One daughter is now honored as St. Catherine of Sweden. Bridget became known for her works of charity, particularly toward Östergötland’s unwed mothers and their children. When she was in her early thirties, she was summoned to be lady-in-waiting to the new Queen of Sweden, Blanche of Namur. In 1341 she and her husband went on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. In 1344, shortly after their return, Ulf died at the Cistercian Alvastra Abbey in Ostergotland. After this loss, Birgitta became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis and devoted herself wholly to a life of prayer and caring for the poor and the sick. It was about this time that she developed the idea of establishing the religious community which was to become the Order of the Most Holy Saviour, or the Brigittines, whose principal house at Badstena was later richly endowed by King Magnus IV of Sweden and his queen. In 1350, a Jubilee Year, Bridget braved a plague-stricken Europe to make a pilgrimage to Rome accompanied by her daughter, Catherine, and a small party of priests and disciples. This was done partly to obtain from the Pope the authorization of the new Order and partly in pursuance of her self-imposed mission Pope Urban V, during his brief attempt to re-establish the papacy in Rome, confirmed the Rule of the Order, but meanwhile Birgitta 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 until her death on 23 July 1373, urging ecclesiastical reform.