BRIDGET OF SWEDEN  (ca 1303 - July 23, 1373)

Bridget was a woman of many roles

  • wife

  • mother of 8 (one of whom is also a Saint)

  • princess of Sweden

  • confidant, advisor and critic of Kings, Popes and Councils

  • pilgrim

  • visionary and recipient of several revelations

  • foundress of an Order

  • Saint

In 1999, She was named, along with Catherine of Siena and Edith Stein, as one of the women co-patronesses of Europe.  The men are Benedict, Cyril & Methodius.

Her marriage, begun in 1316, ended when her husband died in 1344, after they had returned from a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. 

From early childhood, Bridget believed she had received visions or revelations, and after her husband died, these revelations become more frequent.  

In one of them, the Lord directed her to found an order, his Order  « The Order of the Most Holy Savior, O.Ss.S.» to live a life of praise for His Mother, the Blessed Virgin.   The revelations detailed a rule of life, the form of liturgical prayer her Nuns were to pray, and even the unique habit the Nuns were to wear.  

Bridget, with the assistance of King Magnus of Sweden and his wife, founded a monastery at Vadstena in 1346.  She was directed to go to Rome to seek papal approval for her community, and her rule.  She journeyed to Rome in 1349.  The Popes, however, resided in Avignon in France at this period, and one of Bridget's many missions was to encourage, in any way she could, including criticism,  the return of the papacy and the curia officials to Rome.

There was a temporary success, and during it, in August of 1370, in Rome, Pope Urban V confirmed the constitutions of Bridget's new order.  

Bridget continued doing charitable work in Rome and throughout Italy and then made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1373.  She returned to Rome, died on July 23rd.  Afterwards, her daughter, St. Catherine of Sweden, returned Bridget's body to Vadstena and became first Abbess of the new order.

It is of interest to note that Bridget, although both foundress and lawgiver, was never a member of her order, never wore the habit of the order and which she had described from her visions, never was a nun, in fact.  And perhaps never prayed the office she left for her Nuns.  Much of the iconography which shows Bridget does picture her in a habit, or in pilgrim's attire and sometimes, even in the dress of royalty. 


the bridgettine order(s)

The  Bridgettine Order was founded principally for  contemplative nuns.  Each Abbey was to be independent and its government would be exercised by an Abbess.  Bridget also included monks in the Order, so that there were, for many centuries, Abbeys with double monasteries (i.e., one for women, one for men -- they would share one building only, the church).  The monks were to be chaplains to the Nuns.

Bridget's rule specified numbers for each community, i.e., 

"the number of choir nuns shall not exceed sixty, with four lay sisters;  the priests shall be thirteen, according to the number of the thirteen apostles, of whom Paul the thirteenth was not the least in toil;  then there must be four deacons, who also may be priests if they will, and they are the figure of the four principal Doctors, Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory and Jerome, then eight lay brothers, who with their labors shall minister necessaries to the clerics, therefore counting three-score sisters, thirteen priests, four deacons, and the eight servitors, the number of persons will be the same as the thirteen Apostles and the seventy two-disciples" (Rule).

The order grew, and by many accounts, its reputation was one of holiness.  The constitutions were further approved by Urban VI again by Martin V.   The crises in Europe which followed these good beginnings took their toll: the reformation, the many wars, national and civil.  By the mid 1860's, the double monasteries ceased.

« Syon Abbey has the distinction of being the only religious community of continued, unbroken existence since its foundation in 1415 before the Reformation, although its Nuns have been several times in Exile and only finally returned to England in 1861. »






Specific Bridgettine components of the Office 

continue here for the STRUCTURE OF THE OFFICE


These Bridgettine Office pages were prepared with the assistance and the kindness of 


Mother Abbess and the Bridgettine Nuns


Syon Abbey


TQ10 9JX



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added November 5, 2000