Blessed Elisabeth Hesselblad
Blessed Mother Elisabeth Hesselblad was born on 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, which had earlier been founded by Bridget and her daughter St. Catherine.
From that point on, her life was spent in following Christ and growing in the spirituality of her great compatriot.
Blessed Elisabeth adapted the Bridgettine religious spirit to the needs of the Church and the world of her day in a constant effort to blend contemplative life and apostolic activity, two aspects typical of the life of St Bridget in the fourteen century.
She is called "the second Bridget" because of her efforts in making St. Bridget better known and for having revived the Order and in this way continuing St. Bridget's work in our own day. The lives of the crucified Jesus and his sorrowful Mother at the foot of the cross and the ideal willed by the Lord in his prayer "Ut unum sint" were to be the charism of her foundation.
Faithful to the initial vocation of Blessed Elisabeth, the Order today engages in missionary, charitable and social activities, with special concern for the ecumenical ideal for which Blessed Mother Elisabeth lived. Just as Saint Bridget had spared no effort in working for the return of the Pope to his See of Rome, so, too, in this century, the Order of the Most Holy Saviour works energetically for the unity of all God's people in order that the commandment of Jesus be fulfilled. The daughters of Bridget offer to the Father a life of prayer which is characterised by conversion of heart, devotion to the Eucharist and praying in common with other Christians.
Blessed Elisabeth died on 24 April 1957 in Rome. Pope John Paul II beatified her on 9 April 2000 in Rome.
To read more about Blessed Elisabeth's life, please see the Vatican website or read the excellent biography The Most Extraordinary Woman in Rome by Marguerite Tjäder.