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Saint Bridget of Sweden in The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD

Saint Bridget of Sweden in The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD

The fourteenth century saint, Bridget of Sweden, whose feast the Church celebrates today, lived amidst great privilege and wealth in the court of the King of Sweden. Although she was married with many children, after a pilgrimage together with her husband to the shrine of Saint James in Compostela, she experienced a profound desire to enter the cloister and went on to found her own double monastery, comprising men and women living alongside in separate monastic houses.

We are told that Saint Bridget was a pious and devout woman even before this life-changing decision. Yet we might still be alarmed that one with so much material comfort, and with the responsibility of eight children, would do something so radical. What might we glean from this? First, we can learn the importance of virtue. Saint Bridget strove to curb the excesses of the royal court, and took the adventurous and risky decision to travel the pilgrimage route through Spain. She lived a life of faith, of moral integrity and faith in the Lord, always seeking to grow in holiness herself and so bring others to know the joy of living in Christ. Secondly, we can observe that by her willingness to live for the Lord she was thus open to his grace. By a life by habits of virtue, she opened her heart more and more to Christ, becoming more and more docile to his direction, even to the point of rejecting what had become normal for her, in order to follow him.

We should be unsettled by this. We expect the Lord to call us to a way of life and leave it at that. What Saint Bridget shows us is that if we truly follow the Lord, the way he demands is only ever his, not ours. The Christian must live in abandonment to Christ’s will. This is a challenge to our material and spiritual comfort, yet we can be assured that the reward for acting with such courage is great. By her docility Saint Bridget won the crown of everlasting life. Today, by her intercession, may we be granted the grace to follow her example, and join her in the ranks of the blessed.