|The Life of Saint Birgitta|
|by Prior Peter and Master Peter|
One should know that this most humble handmaid of God never presumed to call herself or to have herself called the bride of Christ, or his channel, because of vainglory or transitory honor or any temporal advantage, but at the instruction of Christ and of blessed Mary, his most worthy Mother, who both called her so. And it was not from presumption, but out of humble obedience to them, that she thus called herself in her writings.
|Of what parents Christ's bride, Lady Birgitta, was born.|
As we read about blessed John the Baptist and about Saint Nicholas, the merits of parents many times cooperate to produce in their children an even greater grace, which perseveres to the end. So Lady Birgitta of holy memory, the princess of Närke in the kingdom of Sweden, the bride of Christ, came forth from just and devout parents, who were noble according to the flesh because they were of the noble race of the kings of the Goths, but more noble according to God. For her father was a devout and just man and was called Lord Birger of Upper Sweden. Every Friday, he humbly confessed his sins; and he used to say this: "On Fridays, I want to prepare myself so well for God that on the other days I may be ready to bear whatever God may give."
He also visited, with great labor, the places of the saints - namely, of James and of others - imitating the footsteps of his predecessors. For his father had been a Jerusalem pilgrim and so had his grandfather and his great-grandfather and his great-great-grandfather. And it is unheard of that men so magnificent and of such great wealth and glory from the ends of the world - namely, from the kingdom of Sweden - should undertake such a laborious journey - namely, to see the places of Saint James and of Jerusalem, where Jesus Christ became incarnate and suffered.
Wherefore Christ later, among other words of the revelations, spoke to his aforesaid bride: "I tell you," he said, "but not for your praise, that your generation has come forth from a lineage of holy kings. And they themselves earned, by their merits, that my divine grace be made manifest with you." And similarly the mother of this same bride of Christ - her name was Lady Ingeborg - was very noble and very devout.
Her father, named Lord Benedict, a man sprung of kingly seed, founded and endowed many churches and monasteries. The wife of this Benedict hid her devotion of mind and walked ways in accord with her noble rank and the customs of the nobility. One time when she and her household were passing through a certain monastery of nuns, she was looked down upon by a certain nun. And indeed this nun began, with force, to disparage this same grandmother of the said Lady Birgitta and to murmur with the other nuns. And when, on the following night, the said nun had fallen asleep, a person of wonderful beauty appeared to her and said with angry countenance: "Why have you disparaged my handmaid by saying that she is haughty, which is not true? For from her offspring I shall cause a daughter to come forth, with whom I shall do my great deeds in the world; and I shall pour such great grace into her that all the nations will be astonished."
However, when the time came that this bride of Christ, Lady Birgitta, was still in her mother's womb, it happened that her mother suffered shipwreck in an inlet of the sea. And when many of either sex had already drowned, a duke of the kingdom, Lord Eric, the king of Sweden's brother, who was there at the time, saw her in peril, and, by every means in his power, brought her alive to the shore. Then that very night, a person in shining garments stood by that same mother of Lady Birgitta and said: "You have been saved for the sake of the good that you have in your womb. Therefore nourish it with the love of God because it is God who has given it to you."
|How the birth of Christ's bride appeared to a priest.|
|And so, with the coming of the time at which the girl Birgitta was born, a certain parish priest of a nearby church - a man of proven life and advanced age - while awake and praying, saw in the night a shining cloud, and, in the cloud, a virgin sitting with a book in her hand. To the wondering priest the same virgin said: "To Birger has been born a daughter whose wonderful voice will be heard throughout the world."|
|How she was as if tongueless for three years.|
|And so, as the girl Birgitta advanced in age, she was as if tongueless for three years and did not have the use of speech. Her parents were in much doubt about this, believing that she was mute; but at the end of the third year, she so fully obtained the use of speech that she did not speak in the babbling manner of infants, but, contrary to what is natural at such an age, she sounded the words perfectly.|
|How Birgitta's mother dies.|
|In the meantime her mother, a woman virtuous in all things, was growing infirm. Several days in advance, she foreknew and foretold her own passing; and when she was just about to go forth from her body and saw her husband and the others sorrowing, she said: "Why do you sorrow? It is enough to have lived this long. We must rejoice because I am now called to a mightier Lord." And having called her children, she blessed them all and fell asleep in the Lord.|
|How, while still a girl, she saw wonderful things.|
And so, when the girl Birgitta, the bride of Christ, had now attained the seventh year of her age, she once saw, while wide awake, an altar just opposite her bed and a certain lady in shining garments sitting above the altar. The lady had a precious crown in her hand and said to her: "O Birgitta, come!"
And hearing this, she arose from bed, running to the altar. The lady said to her: "Do you want to have this crown?" She nodded, and the said lady put the crown on her head so that Birgitta then felt, as it were, the circle of the crown touching her head. But when she returned to bed, the vision disappeared; and yet she could never forget it.
|How she saw Christ crucified.|
Round about her tenth year, on a certain occasion she heard a sermon preached in church about the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. The following night she saw, in a dream, Christ as if he had been crucified in that same hour, and he said to her: "In such a way was I wounded." And she thought that this had happened at that hour and answered in her sleep: "O Lord, who has done this to you?"
Jesus Christ answered: 'Those who scorn me and neglect my love: they have done this to me." Then she came to herself; and from that day, she felt such affection for the passion of Christ that she could rarely recall the memory of it without tears.
|How an unknown girl was seen sitting beside her.|
Moreover, on a day in her twelfth year, she was intent upon some handiwork involving silk and gold in the company of other girls of her own age; and she felt much anxiety of soul because she could not do her work as she wished. Then her maternal aunt - a very devout and praiseworthy lady into whose keeping Birgitta had come after her mother's death - walked into the house and saw an unknown maiden sitting beside Birgitta and doing that same piece of work with her. And since, at her entrance, that unknown girl had disappeared, the aunt then asked Birgitta who the girl was that had been working with her.
Birgitta answered that she had seen no one. Her aunt, however, inspected the work and found that it was so finely done that anyone looking at it would be given to understand that it was not the work of a girl of such a tender age but was something divine. Therefore this lady herself used to hold it in regard among her relics as something from God.