OP Birgitta 5

Saint Birgitta

A brief biography of Saint Birgitta (1303–1373)

Birgitta Birgersdotter was born into a noble family in Uppland in Sweden in 1303. She became one of the most influential women of her time in all of Europe. Her parents were members of one of the foremost families of lawspeakers in Sweden, with ties to royalty and senior churchmen.

Birgitta began to have visions in childhood, and it became apparent even to the casual observer that she was inspired by a divine force. Her mother and others in turn had visions about her.

Birgitta was married off at an early age to one Ulf Gudmarsson and had eight children, but after the death of her husband she dedicated herself to spiritual life. She went on several pilgrimages (including with her husband in his lifetime) and spent a considerable amount of time in Rome, the epicentre of the Catholic Church.

Birgitta is often depicted with a book and pen in hand to show how she received her visions and recorded them.

Birgitta’s monastic code, the Brigittine Rule, devised specifically for women, was approved by the Pope three years before her death. In collaboration with Petrus Olovsson, also known as Petrus of Skänninge, she created the Brigittine Office or Cantus sororum, a cycle of monastic devotions according to which songs of praise were sung throughout the day every day at Brigittine convents.

Birgitta died in Rome in 1373 and was elevated to sainthood in 1391. In 1999, she was named one of the patron saints of Europe.

Birgitta’s name also appears in the form Bridget, and she is sometimes referred to as Saint Birgitta/Bridget of Sweden to distinguish her from Saint Brigid/Bridget of Kildare, the patroness saint of Ireland (c. 451 – c. 725).


Salmesvuori, Päivi 2012. Heliga Birgitta – Europas skyddshelgon, Päivi Setälä & Eva Ahl-Waris (eds.). Orig. Pyhä Birgitta – Euroopan suojeluspyhimys, Otava 2003, Stockholm: Societas Sanctae Birgittae.

By Sofia Lindroos