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 be 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. This manuscript is from the middle of the 15th century and contains parts of the first three books, as well as the legend of Saint Birgitta, known as the “Vita abbreviata," and an exposition on the Ten Commandments. This text of the Revelations is of special interest as it contains stylistic adaptations and amplifications not found in the earlier manuscript of about 1400 also in the National Library of Sweden (shelfmark A 5a). It was written in the Swedish Birgittine mother house in Vadstena and is comprised of 171 parchment leaves in a contemporary binding. The manuscript was acquired in 1780 by the National Library of Sweden from the Swedish Archive of Antiquities.

Last updated: June 7, 2016