The Life Of Saint Birgitta Essay

1510 words - 6 pages

It is rare in history, especially in the late medieval ages, to find a woman who is able to find her own way and make a name for herself without the aid of a man. However, Birgitta Bigersdotter did exactly that; she realized her potential and with the visions from God she was blessed with, she used everything she had and rose to become “one of the great saints of Scandinavia” (Lindqvist 71). Birgitta was the only woman in the fourteenth century who was made a saint and the only woman to start her own monastic order that is still relevant today (Morris 1). Saint Brigitta overcame the limitations placed on women of this era by turning toward religion. By proving her piety and “on the basis of an acknowledged sanctity and a theocratic equality, she was able to communicate effectively with emperors and popes, kings and bishops, women and men, children and servants” ("Birger Gregersson and Thomas Gascoigne: The Life of Saint Birgitta") How was it that a woman could rise to such heights in the male dominated medieval society? To answer that question one must look at the Swedish society at this time.
As far as Europe goes, Sweden could be considered a bit of a late bloomer. In many ways Sweden was falling behind its more advanced neighbors. Gone were the incredible years of Viking conquest, these were the years of suffering, trying to piece this country together. It seemed that everything was coming to Sweden much later than most other parts of Europe. Sweden did not have a common law until the mid fourteenth century, the capital, Stockholm was only established far in the thirteenth century, Christianity also arrived late, in the eleventh century (Morris 12). A benefit of this is that they avoided the struggle between church and the ruling class, because there was no real church established yet. It may be surprising that a woman would come from this background to eventually be named a saint, but that is exactly what Saint Birgitta did.
Brigitta Birgersdotter was born in 1303 into a wealthy family. However, she was not born into just any wealthy Swedish family, no, her her father was Birger Persso, one of the richest men in the country. She was related to the Swedish royalty through her mother and her father was a “lagman” or a lawman in Uppland, Sweden (Lindqvist 71). Birgitta did not speak for the first years of her life, when she turned three year old she finally uttered her first word. It is assumed that she was taught to read and write by the castle chaplain (Wilson 227). Her family was known to be deeply religious; every Friday her father could be found in the cathedral: confessing his sins, and making sure he was always on the good side of Christ. Birgitta's mother Ingeburgis was also known to be religious, but her piousness did not have much effect on the young Birgitta because she passed away only a year after Birgitta's birth, in 1304. After the death of her mother Birgitta's main female role model was her aunt who was a woman would...

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