Today the Catholic Church honors St. Bridget of Sweden. She is but one of several medieval queens and princes who are noted, not only for their holiness but also for their profound care for the poor.
Like St. Elizabeth of Hungary and St. Elizabeth of Portugal she shared her goods with the poor and personally cared for the poor and sick.
St. Bridget was also a mystic, with a deep love for the suffering Christ. Like other women mystics, including St. Rose of Lima, her love for Christ flowed out into a deep love for the poor.
Also, like St. Catherine of Siena, her mysticism found its parallel in an acute prophetic stance, especially in regard to the papacy and their abandonment of Rome for Avignon. She was not slow to call Pope Clement VI “a destroyer of souls, worse than Lucifer, more unjust than Pilate, and more merciless than Judas.”
St. Bridget had eight children and lived a happy married life with her husband, Ulf Gudmarrson. After he died, after 28 years of married life together, she entered a convent but soon started her own religious order, the Brigittines, which combined men and women religious living in separate houses but worshipping together.
Her mystical writings are many, filled with responses to interesting questions, such as “Why do animals suffers, though they cannot revel?”
In Benedictine Daily Prayer, the reading for Vigils includes one of her prayers. These lines struck me:
Joy and eternal praise be yours, Lord Jesus, for sending the Holy Spirit into the disciples’ hearts and filling them with limitless love for God.
The Lord filled her with a love of God which flowed out into a deep love for the poor and sick and was not loathe to challenge the unjust and sinful.
A good woman – like so many others.
She is one of the women patrons of Europe with Catherine of Siena and Edith Stein.