Saint Bridget of Sweden was born the year 1303 in Uppland, Sweden to an upper class family. Her father was the governor of Uppland and her mother related to Swedish royalty of the day. Her wealthy parents afforded her an excellent upbringing in the Catholic Church, and her faith and devotion grew starting from a young age. Throughout her life, she would become known as a mystic and later be venerated as a saint.
Saint Bridget’s mystic experiences started early. At the young age of ten, she had a vision of Jesus Christ hanging upon the Cross. When she asked who had done this, the Lord replied to her:
“They who despise me, and spurn my love for them.”
The Passion of Christ afterwards became a central theme to her spiritual life, and her visions of the Passion grew more frequent. She was a celebrity to some, and a controversial figure to others because of these frequent mystical experiences. Eventually, a popular work of the middle ages was penned containing all the experiences she had in her lifetime, titled Revelations of St. Bridget of Sweden.
Caring deeply for the Passion of Christ, she prayed daily asking the Lord how many blows he suffered during His Passion. After much time, her prayers were answered and the Lord came to her saying:
“I received 5,480 blows upon My Body. If you wish to honor them in some way, recite fifteen Our Fathers and fifteen Hail Marys with the following Prayers, which I Myself shall teach you, for an entire year. When the year is finished, you will have honored each of My Wounds.”
Given to her were fifteen prayers to be recited every day for a year, along with an Our Father and a Hail Mary accompanying each. Totaling up all the prayers amounts to 5475, with the remainder being the Five Wounds which are typically honored separately. The prayers given to her were quite popular in the middle-ages and became known as the Holy Wounds of Jesus devotion.
Saint Bridget spent her final years on Earth in Rome to gain papal approval for her order she had founded, The Order of the Most Holy Savior, also known as the Bridgettines. After her death, her second daughter Saint Catherine returned to Sweden to bury her and head the newly approved order. In 1999, Pope Saint John Paul II wrote in Spes Aedificandi about Saint Bridget:
“Yet there is no doubt that the Church which recognized Bridget’s holiness without ever pronouncing on her individual revelations, has accepted the overall authenticity of her interior experience”
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