The Bridgettine or Briggittine order is a monastic religious order of Augustinian canonesses founded by Saint Birgitta (Saint Bridget) of Sweden approximately 1350, and approved by Pope Urban V in 1370. There are today several different branches of Bridgettines.

t Bridget's rule

The original Bridgettine order was open to both men and women, and was dedicated to devotion to the passion of Jesus. It was a ”double order” each convent having attached to it a small community of canons to act as chaplains, but under the government of the abbess.

St Bridget's rule stipulated: "the number of choir nuns shall not exceed sixty, with four lay sisters; the priests shall be thirteen, according to the number of the thirteen apostles, of whom Paul the thirteenth was not the least in toil; then there must be four deacons, who also may be priests if they will, and they are the figure of the four principal Doctors, Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory and Jerome, then eight lay brothers, who with their labors shall minister necessaries to the clerics, therefore counting three-score sisters, thirteen priests, four deacons, and the eight servitors, the number of persons will be the same as the thirteen Apostles and the seventy two-disciples" (Rule).

The nuns were strictly enclosed, emphasising scholarship and study, but the monks were also preachers and itinerant missionaries. The individual monasteries were each subject to the local bishop, and, in honour of the Virgin Mary, they were ruled by an abbess.


Throughout the period 1385-1403, St.Bridget's granddaughter lady Ingeborg Knutsdotter was Abbess of Vadstena. Upon her death on 14 September 1412, all the direct descent from St. Bridget went extinct. This opened the medieval concept of "Bridget's spiritual children", members of the order founded by her, to be her true heirs.

The order spread widely in Sweden and Norway, and played a remarkable part in promoting culture and literature in Scandinavia; to this is to be attributed the fact that the head house at Vadstena, by lake Vättern, was not suppressed till 1595. By 1515, with significant royal patronage, there were twenty-seven houses, thirteen of them in Scandinavia. Bridgettine houses soon spread into other lands, reaching an eventual total of 80.

In England, the famous Bridgittine convent of Syon Abbey at Isleworth, Middlesex, was founded and royally endowed by Henry V of England in 1415, and became one of the richest, most fashionable, and influential nunneries in the country. It was among the few religious houses restored in Mary I’s reign, when nearly twenty of the old community were re-established at Syon in 1557. On Elizabeth’s accession they migrated to the Low Countries, and thence, after many vicissitudes, to Rouen, and finally in 1594 to Lisbon. The community remained in Lisbon, always recruiting their numbers from England, until 1861, when they returned to England. Syon House is now established at Chudleigh in Devon, the only English community that can boast an unbroken conventual existence since pre-reformation times. There is an excellent example of a Bridgettine mission in India. Bridgettine sisters run several organizations in India and Cochin institution is a major one among them.

Virtually all of the north European Bridgettine convents (the bulk of the order) were destroyed during the Reformation.

Currently active branches

The medieval branch

The original medieval branch today consists of four independent convents:

* Maria Refugie in Uden, Netherlands
* Syon Abbey in Isleworth, England
* Birgittakloster in Altomünster Germany
* Pax Mariae in Vadstena, Sweden

The Spanish branch

Marina de Escobar founded a Spanish branch in the 1630s, consisting only of nuns following a slightly modified version of the St Bridget's rule. It currently consists of four independent monasteries in Spain, four in Mexico and one in Venezuela.

The Swedish branch

The largest branch of the Bridgettines today is the one that was founded by Elisabeth Hesselblad September 8, 1911. It was fully approved by the Holy See on 7 July 1940 and currently consists of convents in Europe, Asia and North America. The Mother House of the Order is located in Piazza Farnese, close to the Campo de' Fiori, Rome, Italy, a house, where Birgitta once lived. Mother Tekla Famiglietti has headed the order since 1979.

Birgittine monks

A new branch of the Brigittine Monks was founded by Brother Benedict Kirby in March 1976. It currently consists of a single monastery, the Priory of Our Lady of Consolation, Amity, Oregon.

ee also

* Societas Sanctae Birgittae

External links

* [ Bridgettines of Rome, Italy]
* [ Bridgettines of Vadstena, Sweden]
* [ Bridgettines of Tallinn, Estonia]
* [ Bridgettines of Amity, Oregon, USA]
* [ Bridgettines of (Altomünster, Germany]

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