The Birgittin Order A Swedish-Danish-Polish connection
The Birgittins, the Order of the Holy Redeemer, is a nun, founded in 1370 by Birgitta Birgersdotter (later called Birgitta by Vadstena (1303-1373)), who was of Swedish grandfather genealogy both on the fathers and mothers side. The first monasteries were common nuns and monks, ie. with a common church but separate residential buildings. In the Littoral monasteries that still exist, however, only nuns work.
Birgitta had visions of propagating the idea of human nobility and the idea of the unification of the people instead of the justice of the powers enforced by the sword. From her thoughts on a just Christian society, she influenced both king and politics in Sweden and took the initiative to mediate in European conflicts.
In Denmark, vertiginous monasteries arose in Maribo and Mariager.
In Poland, the order first settled in Gdańsk (in 1394) and then in Lublin.
Queen Margrethe I was a supporter of the principles that the Birgitines stood for and personally worked for the order to create monasteries, first in Scandinavia and then in Pomerania. Her successor, Erik of Pomerania, through her family contacts, gained the foothold in the Bavaria and England.
Queen Margrethe's commitment to building and spreading the new order was associated with her upbringing, where she was closely associated with Birgitta's family for a time. Birgitta's ideas, of course, also had an impact on Margrethe's political efforts, culminating in the adoption of the Kalmar Union in 1397, where the three neighboring countries: Denmark, Norway and Sweden were joined together under one ruler. According to the Union rules, attacks from outside on one of the countries should be seen as attacks on all countries.
Margrethe was only a child when she was married to the Norwegian king, Haakon. While her husband was busy waging war, Margrethe stayed in Sweden with Birgitta's daughter, Märta, where she grew up with Märta’s daughter, Ingegerd. In this home, she received a strict, Christian upbringing.
When Margrethe was 16, she moved to Oslo and lived with her husband at the Norwegian royal palace. As King Haakon was often away from home, Margrethe took over many of his obligations regarding castle operation.
One of Queen Margrethe's many merits was that she promoted a process within the church that ended with Pope Bonifacius IX’s semblance of Birgitta in 1391. The spread of Birgitta's ideas in the Middle Ages in the form of dissemination of knowledge of saints had, besides the spiritual significance, also political significance, and these were thoughts and ideas that originated from the far north and from here spread throughout Europe .
Both Birgitta and her husband Ulf were very faithful people. There were eight children in the marriage. Birgitta and Ulf went on pilgrimages to famous holy places abroad, thus to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. While in Spain, Birgitta became aware of the Cistercian Order's monastic rules. While traveling to Spain, Ulf fell ill and in 1344 he died. After her husband's death, Birgitta began to receive revelations, which she wrote down and later released. She wanted to establish a new monastic order and found a monastery in Vadstena in Sweden for both nuns and monks. Birgitta was very courageous and direct when it came to expressing her thoughts, both religious and political.
In 1349, Birgitta traveled to Rome to obtain the Pope's permission to create the new order. The pope did not live in Rome at this time, but in Avignon, France. Birgitta worked intensively to get the pope to move back to Rome and to have his new monastic rule approved. Only in 1370 did Pope Urban V approve the Order of the Littoral (Order of the Most Holy Redeemer).
After Birgitta's death in Rome in 1373, her children Catherine and Birger led her earthly remains to Vadstena. Seven months lasted through Europe. The coffin was brought up over the Alps to Gdynia in Poland and from there by boat to Öland and on to Söderköping. Through Östergötland the coffin was carried in procession to Vadstena. There are many accounts of the miracles that occurred along the way: the blind who regained their sight and the lame who regained their mobility.
The monastery in Vadstena was formally founded in 1346 (where King Magnus Eriksson testamentally donates Vadstena royal estate to a monastery), but was in fact first consecrated in 1384, when it was blessed by the bishop of Linköping. Birgitta's daughter, Catherine, became the monastery's first abbess.
Around 1500, there were 25 monasteries under the order of the Littorite in Europe.
When the monastery in Vadstena in 1594 was seized and looted by Karl, Duke of Södermanland (later Karl IX), the abbot Katarina Olofsdotter and most of the nuns fled to the Gwittian monastery in Gdańsk.
The female branch of the Order came – as mentioned above – to Gdańsk in Poland in 1394; the male branch first came to Poland in 1440. Besides Gdańsk, there was a monastery in Lublin. King Władysław Jagiełło founded a church in Lublin, dedicated to the Victory Mother of God, to thank for the victory over the Crusaders, whose defeat had been foretold by St. Birgitta, and the king entrusted the church to Birgitta's spiritual daughters, the Order of the Birgitina.
The male monasteries in Poland were dissolved in 1596, the female monasteries in the 19th century. The Birgittins again became active in Poland in 1990’s.
On October 1, 1999, the Polish-born Pope John Paul II appointed Saint Birgitta as well as St. Catherine of Siena and St. Edith Stein as patron saints for Europe, for which he said that “emphasize the great role that women have played and play in the continental and secular history of the continent to this day.”. About St. Birgitta, the Pope said that she “God devoted herself to fulfilling her calling as wife and mother, and she traversed Europe from north to south, constantly fighting for the unification of the Christian peoples.”
Prepared by MTS and CNS on the basis of:
E. Kjersgaard “Kjersgaard's History of Denmark”.
The holy Birgitta
Birgitta of Sweden
Życiorysy świętych patronek
A Brigittine Document from the Florentine Paradiso. Written at Vadstena, 1397
St.Birgitta of Sweden and her Revelaciones
Abbey of Vadstena
Birgitta “the Holy One” Birgersdotter
Translated into English by Google Translate. Spangshus.dk accept no liability for any errors or omissions in translation.