St. Bridget, Widow
(by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876)
St. Bridget, known in the entire Church of God, on account of the many divine revelations with which she was graced, was born in Sweden, of noble and pious parents. Shortly before the birth of Bridget, her mother was in great danger of shipwreck, but was miraculously saved. In the following night, a venerable old man appeared to her, who said: "God has saved your life on account of the child to whom you will give birth. Educate it carefully; for it will arrive at great holiness." This command was faithfully followed by the pious mother as long as she lived. After her death, Bridget, then only seven years old, was given into the charge of a very devout aunt, who brought her up most piously. When ten years of age, she heard a sermon on the bitter passion and death of our Lord, which made a deep impression on her young and tender heart. In the following night, Christ appeared to her, hanging on the Cross, while streams of blood flowed from His wounds. Bridget, deeply moved, cried out: "O, Lord, who has so maltreated thee?" "Those who despise my love," answered Christ, that is, those who transgress my laws and are ungrateful for my immeasurable love to them. This vision remained in Bridget's memory, and caused her, from that hour, to manifest the most tender devotion to the passion and death of the Saviour, of which she could never think without shedding tears.PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS
This vision was followed by many others, especially during her prayers, which the Saint loved so well that it seemed as if no other occupation could give her joy or contentment. She often rose quietly during the night and passed hours in pious meditation. She also used many ways and means to mortify her delicate body, so as to resemble, in silently enduring pain, Him who had suffered so infinitely more for her. In obedience to her father, she at the age of thirteen gave her hand to Ulpho, prince of Nericia, whose heart she won so entirely by her amiability and sweetness of manners, that she weaned him, in a short time, from gaming, immoderate luxury in dress and other similar faults, and induced him to lead a life pleasing to God, by his assiduity in prayer and in going to confession. She lived with him in undisturbed love and harmony. She was also very solicitous for her domestics, and allowed nothing that might offend the Almighty or prevent His blessing from coming upon her house.
She became the mother of four sons and as many daughters. Two of her sons died in their innocence; two while travelling in the Holy Land. Two of her daughters lived at court, and became models of all virtues. The third became a nun and led a holy life, and the fourth, Catherine, was numbered among the Saints; which is evidence of the pious care with which St. Bridget educated her children. She herself instructed them in religion and in the way of living piously, and led them, from their most tender years, to practise works of charity and mortification, being an example to them in all virtuous deeds. With the consent of Ulpho, she founded a hospital and waited daily, at certain hours, like a servant, on the poor and sick, who were in it. She often washed their feet, kissing them most reverentially. Her husband became dangerously ill on his return from Compostella, whither he had gone with St. Bridget, to visit the tomb of the holy Apostle St. James. But St. Dionysius, who appeared to Bridget, announced to her, besides other future events, that Ulpho would soon recover. She soon saw this prophecy fulfilled, and had also the joy to perceive that Ulpho was disgusted with the world and desired to end his life in retirement. With the permission of his pious spouse, he went into a Cistercian monastery, where he ended his life most holily.
Bridget lived thirty years after her husband had entered a monastery, and being free from many former cares and anxieties, she devoted herself with great zeal to a most perfect and penitential life. Her temporal possessions she gave to her children, clothed herself in a penitential robe, and unweariedly practised acts of devotion, charity and penance. She fasted four times in the week, and on Friday, took only water and bread. She gave the greater part of the night to prayer, spending whole hours prostrate before the Crucifix or the Blessed Sacrament. Every Friday she let fall a few drops of boiling wax into a wound which she had, to remember, by the pain this gave her, the suffering of our Lord. She daily fed twelve poor persons and served them at table. She founded a convent for sixty nuns, and gave them a rule which she had received from Christ Himself. These regulations were afterwards adopted by many houses of Religious men. This was the origin of the celebrated Brigittine Order. St. Bridget herself entered a convent which she had founded, and was a shining light to all in the practice of virtue.
Having lived there two years, she was commanded, in a vision, to make a pilgrimage to Rome, with her daughter Catherine, and thence to the Holy Land. On her return, a malignant fever seized her, which greatly increased when she had arrived at Rome, and lasted a whole year. The great pains she suffered were made easy to her by the thought of the bitter passion of our Saviour; and for love of Him, she was willing to endure much more. She derived the greatest comfort from a vision in which God appeared to her and assured her of her salvation. The hour of her death was also made known to her by divine revelation. She prepared herself most carefully for her end, and after receiving the holy sacraments, she breathed her last in the arms of her holy daughter, and, rich in merits and virtues, went to receive her reward in heaven, in the 71st. year of her age, in the year 1373. Before and after her death God wrought many and great miracles by her intercession.
I. Christ appeared to St. Bridget, wounded over His whole body, saying that those who had despised His love, and had shown themselves ungrateful for His mercies, had thus maltreated Him. Are you not also one of those who despise the Saviour's love and show themselves ungrateful to Him? Are you not, perhaps, even one of those who, according to the words of St. Paul, crucify Him anew? "You crucify the Lord anew as often as you become guilty of a mortal sin," says Hugh, the Cardinal. And how often has this happened? And what were your reasons for so doing? What could you answer, if Christ would address you, as St. Bernard introduces Him speaking: " Am I not yet wounded enough for you? Have I not yet sufficiently suffered for your misdeeds? why do you still add new pains to the old ones? The wounds of your sins are much more painful to me than the wounds of my body."
What, I ask, could you answer, if Christ spoke thus to you? Oh! prostrate yourself before your crucified Saviour, humbly ask His pardon and promise Him that in future you will show yourself grateful and not offend Him. In every temptation to sin, remember your crucified Lord, and address yourself in the words of St. Bernard: "My God hangs on the Cross, and shall I submit to lust?" Shall I sin? Shall I, for a miserable gain, for a short sensual pleasure, offend my God? "How can I do this wicked thing, and sin against my God?" said the chaste Joseph, when tempted to sin (Genesis, xxxix.). He meant by this, that it was impossible for him to offend so great and so good a God. "How can I sin against my God?" Speak thus to yourself, when Satan or men tempt you to sin. How dare I do it? How can I thus offend my good God? How thus offend my kind Redeemer, and open afresh all His wounds? But your acts must correspond with these words, and as Joseph rather drew upon himself the anger of his mistress and all that might follow it, than offend God, so in the same manner must you act.
II. St. Bridget, in a most gentle manner, reformed her husband of many faults, such as gaming and immoderate love of dress. She taught her children to pray, to perform works of mercy, and mortification. Oh! that all wives would so act to their husbands; all mothers adopt the same plan in the education of their children! How great would their merit be on earth, and how inexpressible their joy at meeting their children in a happy eternity! But on the contrary, how heavy will be the account which those women will have to render before God, and how excruciating their pain in hell, who have incited their husbands to pride, to hatred, and to enmity, to oppression and persecution of their neighbor, to all kinds of fraud, injustice, and other vices! And terrible too will be the punishment of those mothers who take not proper care in the instruction of their children, who do not correct their faults, who do not lead them, by precept and example, to piety, but to frivolous vanities, to love of dress and of the world and all kinds of sinful amusements. What has here been said applies also to husbands and fathers.
Married people should love each other; and what is more opposed to Christian love, than for one to be to the other an occasion of sin, and thus injure one who should be shielded from all evil? Both parents are obliged to lead their children, by word and example, in the path to heaven, and to teach them those lessons which God gives so emphatically by the Psalmist: "That they may put their hope in God and may not forget the works of God." (Psalm lxxvii.) If they neglect this, and perhaps do the contrary, what Origen says will happen to them: " The parents will have to render account of the sins of their children, if they have not instructed them well, and punished them duly; for, it is they who are guilty of the eternal perdition of their children, and they condemn themselves for all eternity."
The Prayers of St. Bridget
to be said in honor of the Blessed Wounds of Our Divine Savior
O Most sweet Lord Jesus Christ, eternal sweetness of those who love Thee, and joy, desire, and firm hope of the hopeless; solace of the sorrowful, and most merciful lover of all penitent sinners, Who hast said, Thy delight is to be with the children of men, for the love of whom Thou didst assume human nature in the fulness of time; remember, most sweet Lord Jesus, all those sharp sorrows which did pierce Thy sacred soul, from the first instant of Thy incarnation, until the time of Thy sorrowful passion, preordained from all eternity; remember, O most amiable Savior, all that bitter anguish Thou didst suffer, when at Thy last supper Thou didst wash the feet of Thy, disciples, didst feed them with the sacred banquet of Thy precious body and blood, and most sweetly comforting them, didst foretell them Thy ensuing passion; after which going to Mount Olivet, Thou saidst, "My soul is sorrowful unto death." Remember, I beseech Thee, O most sweet Saviour, that bitter grief and anguish which Thy sacred soul did suffer, when praying there several times to Thy heavenly Father, Thou didst sweat water and blood; Thou wast betrayed by Thy own disciple, apprehended by Thy chosen people, accused by false witnesses, unjustly arraigned before three judges, and in Thy chosen city, in the paschal solemnity, in the flourishing age of Thy youth, wrongfully condemned, bound, beaten, spurned, spit upon, despoiled of Thy garments, clothed with others in scorn; wast blindfolded, buffeted, spit upon again, bound naked to a pillar, most cruelly scourged, crowned with thorns, struck with a reed, and afflicted with innumerable other torments, pains, and injuries. O my Lord Jesus, by the memory and merit of all that bitter pain and anguish before Thou breathedst Thy last upon the cross, vouchsafe to grant me, before my death, true contrition, entire confession, a flowing fountain of tears, full satisfaction, and plenary remission of all my sins. Amen.O most gracious Lord Jesus, be propitious to me, a sinner.
Our Father, &c. Hail Mary, &c,
O Most sweet Lord Jesus, overflowing fountain of heavenly delights, remember, I beseech Thee, that grief and sorrow which Thou didst suffer, when Thy cruel enemies, like fierce lions with furious and dreadful looks, compassing Thee round about, did pluck out Thy hair, spit up on Thy sacred face, lacerate, buffet Thee; and with all manner of unheard of injuries, outrages, and torments, did most cruelly and basely blaspheme, scorn, and affront Thee. O most sweet Lord Jesus, by all those most barbarous and inhuman outrages Thou didst suffer, vouchsafe to deliver me from all my enemies, visible and invisible, that, protected under the shadow of Thy wings, I may safely arrive at the port of eternal glory. Amen.O most gracious Lord Jesus Christ, be propitious to me, a sinner.
Our Father, &c. Hail Mary, &c.
O Most sweet Lord Jesus, omnipotent creator and fabricator of the world, and repairer of mankind, Who can tamest both heaven and earth in Thy hand, and whose immensity no bound can limit; remember, I beseech Thee, that bitter pain and anguish which Thou didst endure when the perfidious Jews pierced Thy delicate and tender hands and feet with most rough and blunt nails stretching them forth violently with cords to the holes which they had made in the cross. Thus they heaped pain upon pain, most cruelly disjointing all Thy bones, breaking all Thy veins, and renewing all Thy sacred wounds. O most sweet Jesus, by the memory of all these pains and torments on the cross, vouchsafe to give me Thy fear and love, with perfect charity towards my neighbor. Amen.O most pious Lord Jesus, be propitious to me, a sinner. &c.
O Most sweet Lord Jesus, heavenly physician of human nature, and eternal King, remember, I beseech Thee, all those bitter pains which Thou didst endure in Thy sacred members, who, being hoisted upon the cross with all Thy precious body rent and torn, all Thy bones being so disjointed that not one remained in its right place; not having from the crown of Thy head unto the soles of Thy feet any part left whole; so that no anguish could be compared to Thine; at which time, being unmindful of Thy own torments, Thou didst mercifully pray to Thy heavenly Father for Thy cruel enemies, saying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." O most meek and merciful Lord Jesus, by this Thy admirable benignity, goodness, love, and mercy, and by all thy bitter pains and torments, grant that the memory of Thy dolorous passion may be to me a most powerful protection of my soul and body against all the deceits, temptations, and molestations of the devils, my cruel enemies. Amen.O most merciful Lord Jesus, be propitious to me, a sinner. &c.
O Most sweet Lord Jesus Christ, mirror of eternal brightness, and wisdom of the omnipotent Father; remember the bitter grief and sorrow Thy sacred soul did feel, when beholding, in the clear mirror of Thy divine presence, the predestination of the elect, who, through the merits of thy most wholesome passion, were to be saved; and the reprobation of the wicked, who were for their ingratitude to be damned; and the abyss of Thy immense mercy, by which Thou didst commiserate and shed tears for us, miserable, lost, forlorn sinners; and chiefly by that mercy Thou didst show to the thief upon the cross, saying to him, "This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise;" I beseech Thee, O most sweet Lord Jesus, my Lord and my God, to show the like mercy to me, now and at the hour of my death. Amen.O most sweet Lord Jesus, be propitious to me, a sinner. &c.
O Most sweet Lord Jesus, omnipotent king and most amiable friend, remember the bitter grief and sorrow Thy sacred soul did suffer, when, being forsaken by all Thy friends and acquaintance, Thou didst hang naked, rent, and torn upon the cross, having none to comfort or compassionate Thee, but only the blessed Virgin Mary, Thy mother, who standing under the cross, in the bitterness of her soul, accompanied Thee in all Thy torments; unto whom Thou didst commend Thy beloved disciple St. John, in Thy place, saying unto her, "Woman, behold thy son!" and after, to Thy disciple, "Behold thy mother!" O most sweet Lord Jesus, by that sword which did then transpierce her sacred soul; and by that tender love and compassion wherewith Thou didst behold the sad distress of Thy sorrowful Mother, have pity and compassion on me, I beseech Thee, my dearest Lord, and mercifully help, comfort, succor, and assist me in all my tribulations, adversities, necessities, sorrows, and sufferings, both spiritual and corporal. Amen.O most blessed Lord Jesus, be propitious to me, a sinner. &c.
O Most sweet and blessed Lord Jesus; crown of joy, treasure of felicity, sweet source of consolation, and unexhausted fountain of mercy; Who, hanging on the cross, out of the most inflamed desire Thou hadst for the salvation of our souls, saidst, I thirst for the redemption of mankind. O dearest Lord, by this Thy ardent charity, inflame our hearts with Thy holy love, enkindle our desires to accomplish diligently all good works, and wholly extinguish in me the heat of all evil concupiscence, and worldly affections. Amen.O most excellent Lord Jesus, be propitious to me, a sinner. &c.
O Most sweet Lord Jesus, the true light of those who believe in Thee; suavity of our hearts, and sovereign solace of all faithful souls, by that bitter gall and vinegar Thou didst taste upon the cross at the hour of Thy death, grant us, miserable sinners, grace worthily to receive at all times (and particularly at the hour of death) Thy most precious body and blood: that by virtue of this divine banquet and all other salutary sacraments, we may be preserved from all evils, sins, and punishments; and being replenished with all joy, securely appeal in Thy divine presence. Amen.O most sweet Lord Jesus, be propitious to me, a sinner. &c.
O Most sweet Lord Jesus, king of virtues, and source of all delights, remember, I beseech Thee, that excessive pain and anguish Thou didst endure for us sinners on the cross, when through the bitterness of death, and the impious blasphemies, derisions, scorns, and reproaches of the Jews, with a loud voice and weeping eyes, Thou didst cry to Thy heavenly Father, with this sad complaint: "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" O most sweet Lord Jesus, by this Thy bitter torment, sorrow, grief, and anguish, vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, to have pity on me, and succor me in all my sorrows, sufferings, and tribulations, and particularly at the hour of my death; O then, my dear Lord and my God, vouchsafe to assist and succor me, and do not forsake me, I beseech Thee. Amen.O most gracious Lord Jesus, be propitious to me, a sinner. &c.
O Most sacred Lord Jesus, Alpha and Omega; the beginning and end of all things, and mirror of all virtues; remember how, from the crown of Thy head to Thy feet, Thou wast immerged in the deluge of Thy dolorous passion, for the love of us vile sinners. O most sweet Lord Jesus, by the length, breadth, greatness, and multitude of Thy most sacred wounds, take from me the love of the world; and teach me, by true and perfect charity, always to keep Thy holy laws and commandments. Amen.O most wise Lord Jesus, be propitious to me, a sinner. &c.
O Most sweet Lord Jesus, sovereign goodness, eternal beatitude of Thy saints, and most profound abyss of mercy! by the deep and dolorous wounds, which did not only transpierce Thy sacred flesh, but even Thy bowels, and the marrow of Thy bones, be merciful to me a sinner, who now am drowned in my sins and iniquities, and hide me in Thy sacred wounds from the face of Thy wrath, until Thy indignation be passed away and appeased. Amen.O most sweet Lord Jesus, be propitious to me, a sinner. &c.
O Most sweet Lord Jesus, mirror of truth, pledge of union, bond of charity, remember the innumerable multitude of all those painful wounds wherewith Thou wast covered from head to foot, all Thy holy body most cruelly rent and torn by the impious, and dyed with Thy most precious, blood; all which most dreadful dolors Thou didst endure for us vile sinners. O most gracious Lord engrave these Thy dolors deeply in my heart, and write them there with Thy precious blood, that in them I may always read Thy love and dolors; so that the memory of Thy painful passion may daily be renewed in me, and my love increased towards Thee, and I remain perpetually thankful to Thy immense charity to the last period of my life, until I come to enjoy Thee, my only dear Lord and most desired treasure, abounding with all joy and felicity; which through thy goodness be pleased to grant, O most sweet Lord Jesus. Amen,O most noble Jesus, be propitious to me, a sinner. &c.
O Most sweet Lord Jesus, most victorious Lion, invincible, triumphant, and immortal King; remember, I beseech Thee, all that bitter pain and anguish Thou didst endure when, all the forces of Thy soul and body failing, bowing down Thy sacred head, Thou saidst, "It is consummated." O dearest Lord, by these Thy deadly dolors, have mercy on me at my last passage, when my heart and soul shall be in anguish and anxiety. Amen.O most noble Lord Jesus, be propitious to me, a sinner. &c.
O Most sweet Lord Jesus, only-begotten Son of the eternal Father, figure of His substance, splendor of His glory; remember that most earnest recommendation, wherewith Thou didst commend Thy sacred soul to Thy almighty Father upon the cross, saying, "Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit;" at which time Thou didst hang naked upon the cross, with Thy most holy body all wounded, rent, and torn, pouring forth streams of most precious blood; with Thy face pale and wan, Thy head crowned with thorns, Thy arms extended, Thy hands nailed, Thy veins broken, Thy bones disjointed, Thy bowels of mercy opened, Thy eyes weeping and obscured, Thy voice failing, Thy palate thirsting, and Thy whole heart broken. O my most merciful Lord, unto all those cruel pains and torments didst Thou deliver Thy most sacred, innocent, tender, pure, and precious body, for the redemption of us, most wretched, vile, and miserable sinners, and in this manner renderest Thy sweet soul to Thy heavenly Father, by which most precious and innocent death of Thine, and by virtue of the holy cross, I beseech Thee, O Father of mercy, and omnipotent King of saints, to give me grace to resist the world, the flesh, and the devil; that being dead to all terrestrial things, I may live to Thee alone, and have the happiness to be received by Thee at my last passage, when this my miserable exile shall be ended. Amen.O most pious Lord Jesus, be propitious to me, a sinner. &c.
O Most sweet Lord Jesus, most flourishing, true, and faithful vine; remember the superabundant effusion of Thy precious blood which Thou didst pour forth so plenteously from all parts of Thy holy body, like a cluster of pressed grapes, when Thou Thyself alone didst tread the wine-press on the cross, and out of Thy pierced side didst give us water and wine to drink, not leaving so much as one drop, being then like a bundle of pure and precious myrrh: Thou wast hanged on high upon the cross, at which time the marrow of Thy bones dried up, and Thy most delicate and tender body wholly fainted and failed. O most sweet Lord Jesus, by this most liberal effusion of Thy precious blood, by all the sacred wounds of Thy bitter passion, vouchsafe to wound my heart with that tender love wherewith the holy heart of Thy most blessed Mother was wounded under the cross, that tears of love and penance may be my bread day and night; and convert me wholly to Thee, that my heart may be Thy perpetual habitation, my conversation pleasing and acceptable to Thy divine Majesty, and the end of my life so precious in Thy sight, that having finished this mortal pilgrimage, I may be admitted into immortal glory, to praise and glorify Thee, my sovereign Lord, in the sweet society of Thy holy angels and saints to all eternity. Amen.O most gracious Lord Jesus, be propitious to me, a sinner. &c.
O Most sweet Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, vouchsafe to receive these prayers, in union with that most excellent love wherewith Thou didst suffer all the wounds of Thy most precious body; and be merciful to me Thy poor unworthy servant, and to all sinners, with all faithful souls, both living and dead; graciously granting to us all, mercy, grace, remission of sins, and life everlasting. Amen.St. Bridget of Sweden,
from the Liturgical Year Guerange
O valiant woman! support of the Church in most unhappy times, mayest thou now be blessed by all nations! When the earth, grown poor in virtue, no longer paid its debts to the Lord, thou wast the treasure discovered and brought from the uttermost coasts to supply for the indigence of many. Thou didst earn the good-will of heaven for the hitherto despised North. Then the Holy Spirit was moved by the prayers of Apostles and Martyrs to lead thee to the land which their blood had not sufficed to render fruitful for the Spouse; thou didst appear as the merchant's ship bringing bread from afar to countries wasted and barren. At thy voice, Rome took heart again; after thy example, she expiated the faults which had wrought her ruin; thy prayers and hers won back to her the heart of her Spouse and of of his Vicar.Novena Prayer to Saint Bridget,
Thine own portion was one of suffering and labour. When, to the joy of all, thy work was consummated, thou hadst already quitted this world, Thou didst resemble the heroes of the Old Testament, saluting' from afar the promises that others were to see fulfilled, and acknowledging themselves to be strangers and pilgrims on the earth. like them thou didst seek, not the fatherland thou hadst abandoned and whither thou couldst have returned, but the only true home which is heaven. Moreover God made it a glory to be called thy God. From the eternal city where thine exile is at an end, preserve in us the fruit of thy example and teachings. Thy Order of our Savior perpetuates them in the countries where it still exists though so much diminished; may it revive at Vadstena in its primitive splendor! By it and its rivals in holiness, bring back Scandinavia to the faith, now so unhappily lost, of its apostle Anscharius, and of Eric and Olaf its martyr kings. Lastly, protect Rome, whose interests were so specially confided to thee by our Lord; may she never again experience the terrible trial which cost thee a life-time of labour and suffering.
Queen of Sweden, Widow
With trusting hearts we turn to thee, blessed Bridget, in these hostile and unbelieving days, to implore thine intercession in behalf of those who are separated from the true Church of Jesus Christ. By that clear knowledge thou didst have of the bitter sufferings of our crucified Redeemer, the price of our salvation, we offer thee our supplications to obtain the grace of faith for those who are outside the one true fold, that so the sheep who are scattered may return to the one true Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.Saint Bridget, fearless in thy service of God, pray for us.
Saint Bridget, patient in the midst of suffering and humiliation, pray for us.
Saint Bridget, wonderful in thy love for Jesus and Mary, pray for us.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.
(An indulgence of 300 days once a day, 1905)