The Bridgettine or Briggittine order is a monastic
religious orderof Augustinian canonesses founded by Saint Birgitta(Saint Bridget) of Swedenapproximately 1350, and approved by Pope Urban Vin 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, Gregoryand 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 Knutsdotterwas 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
Swedenand 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.
England, the famous Bridgittine convent of Syon Abbeyat Isleworth, Middlesex, was founded and royally endowed by Henry V of Englandin 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
Currently active branches
The medieval branch
The original medieval branch today consists of four independent convents:
Maria Refugiein Uden, Netherlands
Syon Abbeyin Isleworth, England
Birgittaklosterin Altomünster Germany
Pax Mariaein Vadstena, Sweden
The Spanish branch
Marina de Escobarfounded 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 1940and 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 Famigliettihas headed the order since 1979.
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.
Societas Sanctae Birgittae
* [http://www.brigidine.org/ http://www.brigidine.org/ Bridgettines of Rome, Italy]
* [http://www.birgittaskloster.se/ http://www.birgittaskloster.se/ Bridgettines of Vadstena, Sweden]
* [http://www.piritaklooster.ee/ http://www.piritaklooster.ee/ Bridgettines of Tallinn, Estonia]
* [http://www.brigittine.org/ http://www.brigittine.org/ Bridgettines of Amity, Oregon, USA]
* [http://www.st-alto-st-birgitta.de/ http://www.st-alto-st-birgitta.de/ Bridgettines of (Altomünster, Germany]
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