St Bridget of Sweden and Blessed Mother Elisabeth Hesselblad
The Bridgittine Order, or to give it its formal name: Ordo Sanctissimi Salvatoris (O.Ss.S)
, the Order of the most Holy Saviour, owes its existence to the great 14th
century Swedish woman and mystic Saint Bridget,
whose Feast Day is 23 July, declared co-patroness of Europe by Pope John Paul II in 1999 in recognition of the oustanding relevance of her life message to the people of Europe and beyond today. St Bridget, born in Sweden at Finsta on 14 June 1303, is widely known for her revelations, her devout life of prayer and self-denial and for the monastic order she founded. She had been married and then widowed, and was the mother of St Catherine of Sweden who became the first Abbess of the Order that was established in Vadstena in Sweden in 1369, where today the mortal remains of St Bridget lie in the ancient Abbey church. St Bridget spent the last twenty four years of her life in Rome and died at the House in Piazza Farnese which today is the Mother House of the new Bridgettine Order under the current Abbess General Mother Tekla Famiglietti , and where the mortal remains of the foundress of the new Order, Blessed Mother Elisabeth Hesselblad
, 'the second Bridget', now lie.
Blessed Mother Elisabeth Hesselblad was born on the 4 June 1870 in Fåglavik (Sweden), to Lutheran parents. Elisabeth Hesselblad worked for several years as a nurse in a hospital in New York. Thanks to the help and guidance of the Jesuit, Father Hagan, she felt an ardent desire to deepen her knowledge of the Catholic faith, and was received into the Church on 15 August 1902. The following year she travelled to Rome where she came upon the house of Saint Bridget. After gaining the encouragement and support of Pope Saint Pius X, she founded the Order of the Most Holy Saviour on 8 September 1911. Mother Elisabeth during her life time was regarded by the famous Cardinal Merry del Val, Cardinal Secretary of State under Pope St Pius X, as "The most extraordinary woman in Rome".