july 23. Birgitta, child bride and lover of christ
Patron saint of Europe, Sweden, widows
Lived 1303 to 1391
"She can be called the Patroness of Failures. In this she is like her Lord."
Birgitta was another of Christ's brides. Birgitta's mother went on a sea voyage with the saint's flesh still in her womb. The ship "was destroyed in a sudden tempest," but Birgitta's mother survived. A person in shining garments appeared to her saying, "your life is spared for the Child that you have in your body."
From age 7 onward, Birgitta had a dream-visions ofThe Man of Sorrows (also known as the beaten-down Christ of the Passion). The Virgin, saints, angels, and a loathsome devil with one hundred hands and feet were also her visitants. When Birgitta was 12, her aunt came upon her kneeling naked by her bed. She summoned the rod, but as soon as she laid it on the virgin's back to wail on her, it shattered.
At 13, Birgitta married. Disturbed by her desire for "marital pleasures," she slept on the floor away from her husband in an attempt to starve out temptation. Her desire for progeny outweighed her disgust, and she bore 8 children, all or 6 of whom survived infancy.
HOW TO MARRY A FIGURATIVE MILLIONAIRE
When she was 41 her husband died, and Birgitta took to strict rituals. She began to wear a trio of tightly knotted hemp cords around her waist and below her kneecaps as a reminder of the trinity, and rough and prickly cloth against her skin. On Fridays, she would fast and scar herself with candle wax. She knelt so long that her knees hardened. Christ soon rewarded her, saying:
"I have chosen you and taken you as my bride in order to show you my secrets [. . .] I also have a certain rightful claim on you, since you surrendered your will to me when your husband died. [. . .] Therefore I take you as my bride for my own pleasure, the kind that is appropriate for God to have with a chaste soul." [from The Revelations of Saint Birgitta]
For many years, Christ revealed himself and Birgitta served as his mouth, visiting rulers and church officials to relay her bridegroom's messages regarding the church's corruption.
THE 5480 BLOWS
Saint Birgitta yearned for Christ to enumerate the blows he received in his Passion. The bridegroom appeared to her saying, "I received 5,480 blows upon My Body. If you wish to honor them, recite fifteen Our Fathers and fifteen Hail Marys with the following Prayers, which I Myself shall teach you, for an entire year. When the year is finished, you will have honored each of My Wounds." The prayers, verbatim, are here.