Revelations of Saint Bridget of Sweden


The Revelations of Saint Birgitta (or Bridget) of Sweden (circa 1303–73) is one of the most important and influential works of Swedish medieval literature. According to contemporary sources, Birgitta received her revelations in the form of visions, beginning in the 1340s and continuing until close to her death. Although her revelations related mostly to spiritual matters, they included some messages of a practical and political character, one of which was the command to found a new religious order, which resulted in the establishment of the Order of the Most Holy Savior, or what came to known as the Birgittines. Birgitta first wrote down her revelations in Swedish. One of her two confessors then translated them into Latin. The final redaction of the Revelations was made after her death by her last confessor, the bishop of Jaén (Spain), Alfonso Pecha. In addition to the eight books of the Revelations proper, a few other minor texts usually are included in the Birgittine textual corpus. Birgitta enjoyed a significant international reputation in her own lifetime, and her Revelations were quickly translated into a number of European vernaculars. A Swedish version was required for devotional use by the newly professed nuns of the Birgittine order, and the main part of the Old Swedish text probably was translated from the standard Latin version in the early 1380s. However, there is no extant manuscript containing a full version of this translation. The present manuscript, datable to between 1400 and 1425, is considered to be the source manuscript for the Revelations in Old Swedish. It has small revisions made in about 1400 or shortly thereafter. It contains books one to eight, although some chapters are missing, as well as the legend of Birgitta known as the “Vita abbreviata.” The codex consists of 251 parchment leaves in a contemporary binding, rebacked in modern times. It was written in the Birgittine mother house in Vadstena, under a commission from the nobleman Bengt Jönsson Oxenstierna, to be read by him and others in the aristocratic circles of which he was part. In 1732 the manuscript was sold at auction by the Oxenstierna family to the Swedish Archive of Antiquities. In 1780 it was acquired from the archive by the National Library of Sweden, which also holds other early copies of the Revelations.

Last updated: November 12, 2014