23 July: Feast of Saint Bridget. Bridget was born in Sweden of noble and pious parents, and led a holy life. At ten years old, she heard a sermon on the Passion of our Lord. The next night, she saw Jesus on the cross, covered with blood, and speaking to her about his Passion. From then on, meditation on Our Lord’s Passion affected her so deeply that she could never think of it without tears. She was given in marriage to Ulfo the prince of Nericia; and won him, by example and persuasion, to a life of piety. She lived happily with him for 28 years, bearing him eight children. St. Catherine of Sweden was their daughter. Bridget was very devoted to the education of her children. She was also zealous in serving the poor, especially the sick; and set apart a house for their reception, where she would often wash and kiss their feet. Together with her husband, she went on pilgrimage to Compostella, to visit the tomb of the apostle St. James. On their return journey, Ulfo fell dangerously ill. Saint Dionysius appeared to Bridget at night and foretold the restoration of her husband’s health, along with other future events. Ulfo did recover and became a Cistercian monk. He died not long after becoming a monk. After her husband’s death, Bridget founded the Order of the Most Holy Savior, erecting at Vadstena a double monastery for monks and nuns. Following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, she later went to Rome, where she worked for the return of the Popes from Avignon. Bridget would hear the voice of Christ calling to her in her dreams. She was a mystic, embracing an austere manner of life. Many secrets were revealed to her by God. St. Bridget is most known for the Revelations given to her concerning the sufferings of our Redeemer. After Bridget had kindled the love of God in many hearts in the city of Rome, she made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. On her return trip, she was attacked by fever, and suffered severe sickness for an entire year. On a day she had foretold, she then passed into eternal life. Her body was taken to her monastery of Vadstena. Bridget quickly became renowned for miracles, and was named a saint by Boniface IX. The order she founded, named the Order of the Most Holy Savior (Bridgettines) at Vadstena, received confirmation by Pope Urban V in 1370, and survives today. The new branch of the order was re-founded by Blessed Elisabeth Hesselblad and has grown substantially around the world. Bridget is the patron saint of Europe, Sweden, and widows.
Ideas for celebrating this feast at home:
- For a feast day meal, enjoy a Swedish menu: Swedish meatballs, Raggmonk (Swedish potato pancakes), Lingonberry Sauce, Limpa (Swedish rye bread), braised Swedish red cabbage, Risgrynsgrot (rice porridge/pudding), Pepparkakor (Swedish ginger cookies), and make a traditional Swedish Glogg to drink. Cheers to St. Bridget!
- Read these articles by Saint John Paul II: St. Bridget: A Unique Model of Feminine Holiness, Three Co-Patronesses of Europe and Saint Birgitta.
- St. Bridget was a member of the Franciscan Third Order. If you have never considered joining one of the Church’s order’s for lay people today might be a good time to think about it. Learn more about becoming a secular Franciscan.
- You may want to purchase a copy of Revelations of St. Bridget on the Life and Passion of Our Lord and the Life of His Blessed Mother which contains excerpts from her revelations.
- The Bridgettine Order now has thirteen monasteries of contemplative nuns and a congregation of contemplative-apostolic sisters whose motherhouse is in Rome. For information about the sisters, visit these websites: Bridgettine Sisters and About the Bridgettine sisters
- You may want to buy some delicious fudge made by the Brigittine Monks or purchase a Brigittine Rosary.
(Sources: CatholicCulture.org; The Liturgical Year by Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.)