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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art


b. 1303, Finsta, Sweden; d. 1373, Rome

Sweden’s patron saint, Birgitta was born into wealth and nobility and was the mother of eight children, including Saint Catherine of Sweden. After her husband’s death, Birgitta devoted her life to religion, founding the Order of the Most Holy Savior (the Brigittines) in 1346 (approved by the papacy in 1370). In 1349, she went to Rome and founded hospices for pilgrims, the poor, and the infirm. She labored for the reform of religious life in Italy and for the return of the papacy from Avignon to Rome. Her account of her more than 700 visions, initially published in Swedish and Latin, was translated and widely disseminated throughout Europe during the Middle Ages. Pope Boniface canonized her in 1391.