Right up to her death, she did very large almsdeeds. In Sweden, she had a house set aside for the poor; and she served them in person when she could. She washed their feet and clothed them and visited them when they were infirm and handled their wounds and bodies with tender compassion and the greatest of maternal charity.
|How blessed Mary helped her in childbirth.|
|Now at one time Lady Birgitta was imperiled during childbirth, and her life was despaired of. That night, the women who were present to watch over her were awake; and as they looked, a person dressed in white silk was seen to enter and stand before the bed and handle each one of Lady Birgitta's members as she lay there - to the fear of all the women who were present. When, however, that person had gone out, Lady Birgitta gave birth so easily that it was a thing of wonder and not to be doubted that the Blessed Virgin, who gave birth without pain, was that person who mitigated the labors, the pains, and the peril of her handmaid, just as that same Virgin afterwards told her in a vision when she spoke this revelation:|
|"When you," she said, "had difficulty in childbirth, I, Mary, entered unto you. For that reason, you are an ingrate if you do not love me. Labor, therefore, that your children may also be my children."|
|How she virtuously educated and nurtured her children.|
|The bride of Christ, therefore, with great concern and diligence, virtuously educated and nurtured her sons and daughters, handing them over to teachers by whom they were instructed in discipline and good behavior. She wept daily over her children's sins, fearing that they would offend their God. And so one time when Saint John the Baptist appeared to her, he said: "Because you wept over the fact that your son offended me by not fasting on my vigil, and because you would prefer him to serve me rather than be a king, I shall therefore help him and shall arm him with my arms." Mention is made of this more clearly at the end of the fourth book of the Heavenly Revelations given to the aforesaid lady.|
|How she gained her husband for God and they both went to Saint James.|
When, however, Lady Birgitta had for a long time been making progress in the virtues, she also gained her husband for God. For even though he was a vigorous man and an important member of the king of Sweden's council, he occupied himself - at his wife's advice and admonishment - in learning to read the Hours of the most Blessed Virgin Mary and the books containing the laws and legal judgments; and he studied to fulfill what belongs to justice and the law. And so, both of them - namely, this husband and wife - being fervent in their love for God and that they might more freely disengage themselves from the vanities of the world, went forth from their fatherland and from their kindred after Abraham's example, and, with great labors and expenses, proceeded into Spain to Saint James in Compostella.
After they had made their pilgrimage to many places of the saints and while they were on the way back, her husband took sick in the city that is called Arras, near Flanders. As the sickness grew worse, the bride of Christ, being in a state of great anxiety of soul, merited to be consoled by Saint Denis, who appeared and spoke to her at prayer: "I," he said, "am Denis, who came from Rome to these parts of France to proclaim God's word in my life. And so, because you love me with special devotion, I therefore proclaim to you that through you, God wills to be made known to the world and that you have been handed over to my guardianship and protection. Wherefore I shall help you always; and I give to you this sign: your husband will not die now of this sickness." And many other times, this same blessed Denis visited her in revelations and consoled her.
|A vision of future things.|
|After some days, there in that same city of Arras, she again saw certain wonderful things in prophetic vision: namely, how she was going to travel to Rome and to the holy city of Jerusalem, and how she was going to depart from this world, and how a very handsome youth led her then in spirit through all the said places. All these things were thus fulfilled after much time.|
|How, with her husband convalescing, she returned to her fatherland.|
|However, after his long illness, her husband was convalescing; and they both returned to their fatherland. Between them, they maintained a mutual continence and decided to enter a monastery. And after all their affairs and goods had been set in order to this end, her husband - still having the same purpose - died in the year of our Lord, 1344.|
|How she was sent to a teacher and how, after her husband's death, she was visited by the Spirit.|
After some days, when the bride of Christ was worried about the change in her status and its bearing on her service of God, and while she was praying about this in her chapel, then she was caught up in spirit; and while she was in ecstasy, she saw a bright cloud; and from the cloud, she heard a voice saying to her: "Woman, hear me." And thoroughly terrified, fearing that it was an illusion, she fled to her chamber; and at once she confessed and then received the Body of Christ.
When at last, after several days, she was at prayer in the same chapel, again that bright cloud appeared to her; and from the cloud, she heard again a voice uttering words like those before, namely: "Woman, hear me." And then that lady, again thoroughly terrified, fled to her chamber; and having confessed, she communicated as before, fearing that the voice was an illusion.
Finally, after several days, when she was praying again in the same place, she was indeed caught up in spirit and again saw the bright cloud, and, in it, the likeness of a human being, who said this: "Woman, hear me; I am your God, who wish to speak with you." Terrified, therefore, and thinking it was an illusion, she heard again: "Fear not," he said; "for I am the Creator of all, and not a deceiver. For I do not speak to you for your sake alone, but for the sake of the salvation of others.
Hear the things that I speak; and go to Master Matthias, your confessor, who has experience in discerning the two types of spirit. Say to him on my behalf what I now say to you: you shall be my bride and my channel, and you shall hear and see spiritual things, and my Spirit shall remain with you even to your death." After this, he added: "For three reasons, Lucifer fell," etc., as is more fully contained in the revelations of the Heavenly Book.
And this is the first revelation in the prologue, etc. Therefore in the year of our Lord 1345, the first divine revelations were made to Lady Birgitta not in sleep but while she was awake and at prayer, with her body remaining alive in its vigor, but while she was caught up from her bodily senses in ecstasy and in visions, either spiritual or imaginary, with the coming of a vision or a supernatural and divine illumination of her intellect, for she saw and heard spiritual things and felt them in spirit. Indeed, in the manner mentioned, she saw and heard corporeal images and similitudes; in fact, in her heart she felt something, as it were, alive, which moved more actively and more fervently in response to greater inflammations and infusions, but less when the infusions were less. Many times, indeed, the movement in her heart was so vehement that motion could be seen and felt even on the outside.
|How, even before her husband's passing, she saw certain things.|
In the fourth year before her husband's passing, a saint of our land of Sweden, Botvid by name, appeared to her, as it were, in an ecstasy of mind, and said: "I have, with other saints, merited for you God's grace - namely, to hear and to see and to feel spiritual things - and the Spirit of God will inflame your soul."
In the third year before her husband's passing, the most Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her and said: "I am the Queen of those in misery. I want to show you what my Son was like in his humanity and what he was like when he suffered on the cross. And this will be a sign to you, that you will come to the places in Jerusalem where I lived in the body and there, with your spiritual eyes, you will see my Son." After twenty-eight years, all of this was thus accomplished, as it is more clearly recorded in the book of revelations that she had in Jerusalem and in Bethlehem.