Audience with Pope Benedict XVI 27/10/2010
Piazza San Pietro
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
General audience, the Pope spoke of St. Bridget of Sweden
Dear brothers and sisters,
fervent in the eve of the Great Jubilee of the Year Two Thousand, the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II proclaimed St. Bridget of Sweden, patron of all Europe. This morning I would like to submit the figure, the message, and the reasons why this holy woman has much to teach us - even today - the Church and the world.
We know the events of the life of St. Bridget, because her spiritual fathers they drew up the biography to promote the process of canonization after her death in 1373. Bridget was born seventy years earlier, in 1303, in Finster, Sweden, a country in Northern Europe which for three centuries had accepted the Christian faith with the same enthusiasm with which the Saint had received from her parents, who are very pious, belonging to noble families close to the Princely House.
We can distinguish two periods in the life of this saint.
The first is characterized by her position as a woman happily married. Her husband was called Ulf and was governor of an important district of the kingdom of Sweden. The marriage lasted twenty-eight years, until the death of Ulf. They were born eight children, whose second daughter, Karin (Catherine), is venerated as a saint. This is an eloquent sign of educational Bridget towards their children. Moreover, her pedagogical wisdom was appreciated so much that the king of Sweden, Magnus, called her for a short period with the aim of introducing his young wife, Blanche of Namur, in the Swedish culture.
Bridget, spiritually guided by a religious scholar who began the study of the Scriptures, exercised a very positive influence on her family, thanks to her presence, became a true "domestic church".Together with her husband, adopted the Rule of the Third Order Franciscans. Generously practiced works of charity towards the needy, she also founded a hospital. Beside his wife, Ulf learned to improve his character and to grow in Christian life. Coming back from a long pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, made in 1341 along with other family members, spouses matured the project of living in continence, but not long after, the peace of a monastery where he had retired, Ulf ended his earthly life.
This first period of the life of Bridget helps us appreciate what we today might call a true "spiritual marriage" means all, Christian spouses can pursue the path of holiness, incurred by the grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony. Not a few times, just as happened in the life of St. Bridget and Ulf, is the woman with her religious sensibility, with the delicacy and sweetness manages to follow her husband on a journey of faith. I think with gratitude of many women who, day after day, still light up their families with their witness of Christian life. May the Spirit of the Lord even today arouse the sanctity of Christian spouses, to show the world the beauty of marriage lived according to Gospel values: love, tenderness, mutual help, and fecundity in the generation and education ofchildren, openness and solidarity to the world, participation in Church life.
When Bridget was widowed, began the second period of her life. She gave other weddings for deepening union with God through prayer, penance and works of charity. Even the Christian widows, therefore, can be found in this Santa a model to follow. In fact, Bridget, her husband's death, after distributing its assets to the poor, without access even to religious consecration, she settled at the Cistercian monastery of Alvastra.Here began the divine revelations which accompanied her for the rest of her life. They were dictated by Bridget to the secretaries-confessors, who translated from Swedish into Latin and gathered in an edition of eight books, called Revelations (Revelations). In these books there is an additional one, which is entitled "Extravagantes Revelations" (Revelations additional).
The Revelations of St. Bridget have a content and a very different style. Sometimes revelation comes in the form of dialogues between the divine Persons, the Virgin and saints, and even the demons; dialogues in which Bridget also intervenes. Other times, it is the story of a particular vision, and still others are told what the Virgin Mary tells her about life and the mysteries of the Son. The value of the Revelations of St. Bridget, sometimes subject to some doubt, was explained by the Venerable John Paul II in his Letter aedificandi Spes: "In recognition of the sanctity of Brigid Church, without ever pronouncing on her individual revelations, has accepted the overall authenticity of her inner experience "(No. 5).
In fact, reading these revelations we are challenged on many important issues. For example, frequently returns to the description, with very realistic details, the Passion of Christ, to which Bridget always had a devotion privileged, contemplating in it the infinite love of God for men.On the mouth of the Lord who speaks to her, she boldly puts these moving words: "O my friends, I love you so dearly my sheep, if it were possible, I would die many times before, for each of them, that same death which I suffered for the redemption of all "(Revelations, Book I, c. 59).Even the painful motherhood of Mary, Mediatrix, and that made her the Mother of Mercy, is a topic that often arises in the Revelations.
In receiving these gifts, Bridget was conscious of being the recipient of a gift of great love from the Lord: "My daughter - we read the first book of Revelations - I have chosen you for me, love me with all your heart ... more than anything that exists in the world "(c. 1). Moreover, Bridget knew, and was firmly convinced that every charism is intended to build the Church. For this reason, few of its revelations were not addressed in the form of warnings too severe, the believers of her time, including religious and political authority, because they consistently live their Christian life, but she did so always with an attitude of respect and faithfulness to the Magisterium of the Church, in particular to the Successor of Peter.
In 1349 Bridget left Sweden for ever and went on pilgrimage to Rome. Not only intended to take part in the Jubilee of 1350, but she also wanted to obtain from the Pope's approval of the rule of a religious order that sought to base, named after the Holy Saviour, and composed of monks and nuns under the authority dell'Abbadessa. This is something that should not surprise us: in the Middle Ages there were monastic foundations with a branch male and a female branch, but with practice the same monastic rule, which provided the direction dell'Abbadessa. In fact, the great Christian tradition, the woman is accorded a proper dignity, and - always the example of Mary, Queen of the Apostles - their place in the Church, which, without coinciding with the ordained priesthood, it is equally important for growthSpiritual Community. Furthermore, the collaboration of consecrated men and women, while respecting their specific vocation, is of great importance in today's world.
In Rome, accompanied by her daughter Karin, Bridget devoted herself to a life of intense prayer and apostolate. It moved from Rome on a pilgrimage to various shrines Italians, especially in Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis, to which Bridget always had a great devotion. Finally, in 1371, crowned her greatest wish: the journey to the Holy Land, where he went in company with herspiritual children, a group that Bridget called "friends of God."
During those years, the Popes were at Avignon, far from Rome: Bridget spoke earnestly to them, so they returned to the See of Peter in Rome.
She died in 1373, before Pope Gregory XI returned to Rome. She was temporarily buried in the Church of San Lorenzo in Panisperna, but in 1374 her sons Birger and Karin took her back home, in the monastery of Vadstena, home of the religious order founded by St. Bridget, who met once a major expansion. In 1391 Pope Boniface IX canonized her solemnly.
Bridget's holiness, characterized by the multiplicity of gifts and experiences that I wanted to mention in this brief biographical sketch and spiritual, makes an eminent figure in the history of Europe.Coming from Scandinavia, St Bridget shows how Christianity has deeply permeated the life of all peoples of this continent. Declaring patroness of Europe, Pope John Paul II has called for St Bridget - lived in the fourteenth century, when Western Christianity was not wounded by the division - can effectively intercede with God for the grace of the long-awaited full unity of allChristians. For this same intention, that there is so much at heart, and why Europe will always feed from their Christian roots, we pray, dear brothers and sisters, invoking the powerful intercession of St. Bridget of Sweden, a faithful discipleof God and patroness of Europe. Thanks for your attention.
Her Holiness Pope Benedict XVI held his catechesis on the great female figure of our Holy Mother Bridget, patroness of Europe.At the end, addressing the Chapter Assembly, present at the Hearing, concluded:
"I greet the Sisters of the Order of the Most Holy Saviour and St. Bridget - Brigidine, gathered for their General Chapter, and I pray the Lord that this assembly generous intentions of evangelical life that gives rise to the entire Institute."