Sweden''s most notable woman
Birgitta Birgersdotter was born in 1303 at Finsta Gård in Uppland. Around 20 years after her death, Birgitta was canonised, and in 1999 she was named as one of the patrons of Europe. Saint Birgitta is Sweden''s best-documented person from the medieval period. Who was she?
Birgitta was born into a wealthy, highly educated family. She received an exemplary education and learned to both read and write, which was unusual for girls at that time.
At thirteen, she was married to the future judge Ulf Gudmarsson, who belonged to the same social strata. Birgitta began a new life as the wife of a powerful man, and gave birth to eight children: four girls and four boys
Birgitta did not devote all her time to bringing up the children and managing the large house. For a long time, she was a lady in waiting to the young king Magnus Eriksson and his wife Blanka. Birgitta certainly exerted much influence over the court, but the king and his consort tired of her moral exhortations when her Christian ideals clashed with their elegant world of light morals.
The sin of pride?
Birgitta criticised convents in Sweden and abroad, and reminded the king of his duties.
Birgitta also became involved in international politics and attempted to negotiate peace between France and England in what would later be called the "Hundred Years War". Birgitta often expressed opinions on political issues. She criticised kings and demanded that the Pope, who was living in Avignon, France, move back to Rome.
At her canonisation on 7 October 1391 it was declared that even before her birth, Birgitta had received special protection from God. Her mother had been rescued from a shipwreck shortly before Birgitta was born.
In 1999, the Pope named Saint Birgitta as one of the patrons of Europe.