And so at the beginning of the revelations, she was at once instructed to obey that same Matthias, a master of theology, and to stay in a monastery of Cistercian monks, namely, Saint Mary's in Alvastra, which is in Sweden, in the diocese of Linköping. The Spirit said to her in a vision: "If it should please the mighty Lord to do a work that is singular, general works must not therefore be despised but must be loved all the more and with greater fervor. So I, the God of all, who am above all rules, permit you to reside at the present time near the monastery - not to abolish the Rule, nor to introduce a new custom, but rather to display my wonderful work in a holy place. For David, in a time of need, ate the hallowed loaves - an act that is nevertheless forbidden to some in a normal time."
There was a lay brother with the name Gerekin in this same monastery of the Cistercian order at Alvastra. For forty years he never went outside the monastery; but day and night, he was absorbed in prayers; and he had this grace: that, during prayer, he almost continually saw the nine choirs of angels; and at the elevation of the Body of Christ, he merited frequently to see Christ in the appearance of a child. When Lady Birgitta had come to the monastery and was residing there, this brother wondered in his heart and said:
"Why does that lady settle here in a monastery of monks, introducing a new custom against our Rule?" Then this same brother was caught up in an ecstasy of mind and clearly heard a voice saying to him: "Do not wonder. This woman is a friend of God; and she has come in order that at the foot of this mountain she may gather flowers from which all people, even overseas and beyond the world's ends, shall receive medicine."
Again, on a second occasion, this same brother saw her raised from the earth, and, as it were, lightning going forth from her mouth. And then he heard in spirit: "This is the woman who, coming from the ends of the earth, shall give countless nations wisdom to drink. And this will be a sign to you: that she, from the mouth of God, is going to tell you the end of your life. And you will exult at her words and at her coming; and your desire will be fulfilled more quickly lest you see the evils that God is going to bring down upon this house."
Lord Hemming, bishop of Åbo, performed her divine embassy in France and England and saw that the kings were less than willing to receive the words of God - namely, those revelations touching the kings and the war between the kingdoms of France and England. These revelations are contained in the fourth book of the Heavenly Revelations, nearly at the end of the chapter "Disturbed in heart," etc. As he slept, Lady Birgitta appeared to him and said: "Why are you disturbed? You will return to your fatherland successfully, and you will bear the fruit of souls. But know that the plague upon those to whom you were sent shall not yet end, for their hearts are hardened against God, and they shall be troubled yet a while until they are humbled."
There was a nun named Katharine in the monastery of Mount Saint Mary, in the kingdom of Sweden. She received this grace: blessed Mary appeared to her, and, among other words, said: "I shall show to you that I am the Mother of God, and I shall present you to my Son." When this lady had seen Lady Birgitta and they were talking together familiarly, she replied: "O you happy lady! For I am not speaking so that either you or I would be boasting, because I have heard for very certain a voice that said this: 'Know that Birgitta shall yet be called happy because, if she is scorned on earth, she will be honored in heaven and those to be born will proclaim her name.' Therefore stand firm because without doubt it will thus be accomplished, even as I have heard."
When Master Matthias, her confessor - of whom mention was made above - was stricken with a certain temptation, it was said to Lady Birgitta in spirit: "He will be knowledgeable from 'In the beginning,' i.e., from the beginning of the Bible and of the book of Genesis, which thus commences: 'In the beginning, God created heaven and earth,' right through to 'Alpha and O,' i.e., right through to the Apocalypse, where 'Alpha and O' is thus written. And he will be liberated from his temptations, and I shall give to him the fervor of my Spirit." And at once he felt himself liberated and given rest from his temptation. Also, on the same day that this Master Matthias died in his fatherland, Lady Birgitta, who was staying in Rome, heard in spirit: "Happy are you, Master Matthias, because of the crown that was fashioned for you in Sweden. Come now to wisdom that will never end!"
When, in old age, Brother Algot of the Order of Preachers, a master of theology and a most familiar friend of Lady Birgitta, for three years experienced blindness and suffered violently from calculi, he asked the said Lady Birgitta to offer prayer to God for him. When, in compliance with his request, she asked for him to be healed, this answer came to her in spirit: "He is a gleaming star. It is not expedient that his soul be blackened by his body's health. Now he has competed and he has reached the finish. Nothing remains save that he be crowned. This will be a sign to him: now, from this hour, the pains of his flesh will be alleviated; now all of his soul will be inflamed with my charity." And not many days afterward, he expired.
The aforementioned Lady Birgitta also had, from God, these special graces of great virtue and wonder: the first is that when she was saying anything that would be an offense to God, at once she felt in her mouth a very great bitterness, as it were, of sulphur. And by this she knew at once that she had offended God; and, bringing that word back into her memory, at once and without delay she confessed it to her confessor with great sorrow and tears. Also, when anyone spoke to her any sly or vicious words that would offend God, at once she felt in her nostrils a horrible stench of sulphur, which she could hardly tolerate. And this was a sign that God had then been offended by the words of that person - a thing that we proved almost an infinite number of times.
Moreover, when any person asked her about some doubt in his conscience and sought from her advice and a special remedy that would be very good, she then used to answer him: "Pray to God about this. And we too shall think, and we shall do what we can for you - although I am an unworthy sinner." In fact, after three days or so and sometimes on the very same day, she would answer that same person - if the person were spiritual and honest - having first lifted her hands toward heaven and saying this: "I am a sinner unworthy to say such things; nevertheless, know that Jesus Christ appeared to me at prayer and told me what reply I might make to the fact that you asked such and such, etc."
And then she gave him the words that she had had from Christ or from the Blessed Virgin Mary as the response to this matter. Or else when she was well, she wrote down with her own hand and in her mother tongue the words divinely given to her; and she had them most faithfully translated into the Latin tongue by us, her confessors. And afterward, she listened to the translation together with her own writing that she herself had written, so that there might be not one word more added there or missing but only what she herself had divinely heard and seen in the vision.
If, in fact, she was ill, she called her confessor and her writer - a secretary specially assigned to this - and then, with great devotion and fear of God and sometimes with tears, she reported to him those words in her own vernacular and with a certain attentive elevation of mind, as if she were reading them in a book. And then the confessor said these words in the Latin tongue for the writer, and he wrote them down right there in her presence. And afterward, when the words had been written out, she wanted to listen to them; and she listened very diligently and attentively. And so she gave or sent this writing to those who were making the inquiry. This has often - yes, very often - been proven in experience by the lady queen and the archbishop of Naples; also by the queen and the king and the princes and many others from the kingdom of Cyprus and from the kingdom of Sicily; and by men, and by women too, from Italy, from Sweden, and even from Spain.
Moreover, it also happened very often that to the same Lady Birgitta were revealed the most secret thoughts and doubts of those who came to her and even of certain other persons who were absent - things that they themselves had never at all made public by word or by writing or by sign. Witnesses to this are: Lord Nicholas of Nola, rector of the Patrimony; Lord Gomez de Albornoz, rector of the duchy of Spoleto; the lord count of Fondi; and many others, both religious and secular, to whom she told or wrote the innermost things of their hearts.
One also had to wonder at another grace that the aforesaid lady had from her bridegroom, Jesus Christ. For very often it happened that with devotion and charity, various persons asked her to pray to God for certain souls of some of their departed. And if it seemed to her that they were in purgatory - a place where they would need intercessory prayers - they asked her to tell this to them, the living questioners, and to make known to them by what alms and sacrifices or by what intercessory prayers of the living the dead could be freed from those pains.
Indeed, she received in writing the names of the departed; and with utmost charity and compassion, she prayed to God for them. And then, in prayer, she obtained answers from God as to whether those souls were in purgatory - and even about the manner of that purgatory and of those pains where they were - or whether they were in hell or in heaven. She was also given to know, clearly and distinctly, the manners of intercessory prayer and of alms giving through which those souls could be freed.
Good proof of this was experienced by some of the aforesaid living persons who were named above and who devoutly asked her about such things, and, concerning this, had divine answers from her in writing. Indeed when she herself, or any of us in her house, was anxious or doubtful about anything, at once and without great delay, through the revelations divinely given to her, she humbly brought back from Christ, her glorious bridegroom, or from our Lady, the Virgin Mary, a most precious answer explaining that business.
What more is there? For the testimony to so many virtues, to such great holiness and excellence, to such flowing and abundant grace divinely shining in her is all disclosed in the books of the Heavenly Revelations, which were divinely given to her, and in the Book of Questions, which was also given to her divinely, through an infusion from the Holy Spirit, in a wonderful manner and, as it were, in a single hour, while she was riding her horse and journeying to her villa in Vadstena, as is more fully recorded at the beginning of that same Book of Questions.
Testimony is also provided by visual experiences, for very often these things were seen by us ourselves and by many others in various parts of the world. For we have often seen that things that she had prophetically foretold many years ahead of time, afterwards actually came about in our experience. This is something that many others also saw and experienced. From them it may be clearly gathered (and it can be tested by the sayings of the saints) that she had from God the true spirit of prophecy and that intellectual vision had been divinely given to her.
The miracles too that since her death are happening through her merits and intercession bear now, and will in future bear, the clear witness of truth to the great graces that divinely sparkled in her. Indeed, after this lady had been called into the Spirit of God, she prophesied not only about the future - as did the prophets - but also about the present and the past; and she also clarified many things concerning certain doubtful matters in Sacred Scripture.
Moreover, like the apostles, she relinquished all that she owned; and, at God's instruction, she sent letters to the major personages of the whole of Christendom: namely, to the supreme pontiffs; to the emperors; to the kings and queens of France and of England, of Sicily and of Cyprus; to princes and princesses; to various prelates; to seculars and to religious; to kingdoms, and to lands and to cities. She also visited many lands personally, showing God's will to great and small alike for the good of their souls, redeemed by Christ's blood.
Like the holy evangelists, she wrote also about the birth of Christ and about his glorious life, and, in a similar way, about his death and about his resurrection and about his eternal glory, as is shown clearly enough in her revelations.
In truth, she was not without experience of martyrdom; for she mortified her body by living in toil and abstinence, by exposing herself to dangers on land and on sea, and by patiently enduring, for the sake of Christ's name, the reproaches and affronts of many, whether she was in grave physical infirmity or in health. From her innermost heart, she continually returned thanks to her bridegroom, Jesus Christ, for all adversities; and she prayed suppliantly to God for those who offended her.