|How the bride of Christ was instructed to go to Rome and to testify to the grace of God.|
However, after the passage of almost two years in the Cistercian order's aforesaid monastery of Saint Mary of Alvastra, Christ instructed her to go to Rome, even as it is recorded in the following revelation.
|A revelation concerning the same thing.|
|Our Lord Jesus Christ once spoke to this same Birgitta and said: "Go to Rome, where the streets are paved with gold and reddened with the blood of saints and where there is a compendium - i.e., a shorter way - to heaven because of the indulgences that the holy pontiffs have merited by their prayers. Moreover, you shall stay there in Rome until you see the supreme pontiff and the emperor there at the same time in Rome, and to them you shall announce my words."|
|What she did on the way to Rome.|
|After she had gone forth from her fatherland, she was divinely instructed in a vision to give up her customary reading and learn grammar. This was when she was given blessed Agnes for her solace and Master Peter, her confessor, for a teacher to instruct her and that she might obey him. Moreover, the said lady, in a brief time, made so much progress in grammatical knowledge that she knew in part how to read, to understand, and to utter Latin speech.|
|How she was divinely instructed to go to Naples and visit there the places of saints.|
|After she had stayed a long time in Rome, Christ spoke to her thus and said: "Permission is given you to visit the holy places in Sicily because in that place are the bodies of many who loved me with all their heart. Outstanding among them is Thomas, my apostle. When you arrive there, I am going to show you certain secrets." And since she hesitated somewhat lest her money for expenses chance to fail on the way, the Lord answered: "One who possesses a meadow does not spare the meadow in preference to his laboring horse. So I, the Lord, provide for my friends when their own providence fails; and I stir up the souls of others to do good to them." Look in the Book of Heavenly Revelations for a certain vision that was given to Lady Birgitta by Christ in the city of Ortona and which speaks about the praise of blessed Thomas and about that kingdom.|
|How in Rome she was divinely instructed to go to Jerusalem although the instruction did not determine the time.|
Christ once spoke to her and said: "I am like an eagle that foresees those flying in the air who want to harm its young and forestalls them by its own flight lest they do the harm; so I foresee the times and the ways and the ways' difficulties and the dispositions of souls. And so I say to you: sometimes, 'Stand and wait'; now, 'Go and hurry.' Therefore, because it is already the time, go now to the places previously shown to you: where there was a vessel, clean and not clean; and where there was a lamb, shorn and not shorn; where a lion roared and did not roar; where a serpent moved and did not move; where an eagle flew to a place from which it has never withdrawn."
See in the Book of Questions, in the last and the next-to-last chapters, where these things are recorded and divinely clarified. And when she complained of bodily infirmity and of decrepit age, then an answer came to her from Christ: "Who is the Establisher of nature? Is it not I? Therefore I will increase your strength. I will provide for the way. I will guide you and lead you back to this place in Rome."
On a certain occasion - fifteen years before the incident that we last mentioned above - when Lady Birgitta was praying in Rome, the Virgin Mary appeared to her and said: "Because of the exceeding love that you have for me, I tell you that you will go to Jerusalem when it pleases my Son; and then you will go also to Bethlehem; and I then will show to you how I gave birth to my Son, Jesus Christ." This promise the Virgin Mary fulfilled sixteen years later, when Lady Birgitta was in these said places - as is more amply recorded in the books of revelations, in a certain revelation made to her in Bethlehem that speaks of the Virgin Mary's childbearing.
|How she was divinely commanded, while she was in Jerusalem, to return again to Rome.|
|On a certain occasion, while Lady Birgitta was praying in Jerusalem, Christ appeared to her and said: "All the places that other pilgrims visit, you too will visit. For there are still other places where I was in the body and which should be visited; but it is sufficient for you to seek out the nearer ones because of your infirmity and because it is not yet the time of that mercy of which mention has been made; for there are very few who reflect upon the charity of my passion and of my patience. But when you have come back from the Jordan, prepare yourselves for your journey; for there are still some things to be sent to the supreme princes of the earth." Look for the many and beautiful revelations that are contained in the Heavenly Book and which were made to that same Lady Birgitta in Jerusalem and in Bethlehem.|
|About a special sign of the Spirit.|
One should also know that from the first time that the bride of God was visited by the Spirit of God she had this sign: that, when she was approached by human beings full of diabolic spirit or who were averse to goodness, she felt so great a stench in her nostrils and so bitter a taste in her mouth that she could hardly bear it. Wherefore, when a certain man - who had undergone a change away from goodness and had returned to his earlier sins - had sat down with the bride of God and was speaking with her, he said to her: "What is this about a spirit that you are said to have? Is it from you or from someone else or from a demon?"
To this she - who scarcely had the strength to bear his stench - responded: "You have a fetid indweller, and fetid things proceed from your mouth. Repent, therefore, lest there come upon you the vengeance of God!" The man went away angry; and, when he had gone to sleep, he heard voices without number saying: "Let us drag the pig to the places for pigs because he has spurned the warnings of salvation." Returning to himself, he perfectly corrected his life; and his odor was perceived by the said lady to have changed into sweetness.
A similar thing, as it were, happened to the same Lady Birgitta in Famagusta, in the kingdom of Cyprus, with a certain religious to whom she was speaking; and with many other people, this similarly happened to her.
|Item concerning the same thing.|
|The bride of God had also this special trait: that, in the twenty-eight years from the time she began to have the Spirit of God, she never went or made any change to other cities nor ever tarried in any place except in accord with the infusion and instruction of the Holy Spirit.|
|About the city of Milan.|
|When she was in Milan, she stayed there a long time; and there, amidst other words, the Blessed Virgin Mary responded to the words of a certain great master of theology, as is recorded in the Book of Heavenly Revelations.|
In truth, the said Lady Birgitta stayed in Rome a rather long time, not only because of the indulgences but also because of the promises to be fulfilled. There, in manifold ways, she experienced visitations both concerning the state of the City and concerning the reparation of all states. There too, she was informed with certainty about many things in the future, as is shown in the revelations made to her, which are more amply recorded in her books. There also in Rome the promise was fulfilled that had been made to her in a revelation in Sweden many years before: namely, that she, would go to Rome and would stay there until she saw there the pope and the emperor.
Moreover, when the lord pope, Urban V, wanted to return from Italy to Avignon, the Virgin Mary appeared to the said Lady Birgitta and said to her some words in a vision, saying that this same lord pope should not return from Rome, nor from Italy, to Avignon; otherwise, the outcome would be to his loss in a brief time - as is more amply recorded in that revelation which the same Lady Birgitta, with her own hand, presented to that same lord pope in Montefiascone. And present there, on that occasion, was our lord pope, Gregory XI, who was then called Cardinal Beaufort.
Moreover there, on that occasion in Montefiascone, the Virgin Mary instructed her to tell, on her own behalf, a certain hermit-priest Alphonsus, a friend and acquaintance of hers, to write down and copy the books of the revelations that had been divinely given to her and which indeed until then had been kept secret. At the death of this same lady, Christ confirmed this by instructing the same Lady Birgitta to tell her confessors to hand over to the said hermit all the secret revelations and all others that they had not yet handed over in order that this same hermit might have them written out and that he might publish them to the nations for the honor and glory of God.
Moreover, in Naples and in Jerusalem too, she stayed for a long time; and there she saw some visions concerning the state and the tribulation of kingdoms and concerning the nativity and the passion of Jesus Christ and concerning the calling of the nations. Wherefore, in Jerusalem, Christ spoke to her: "My words," he said, "must for a long time be heard and proclaimed; works and signs will come afterward.
Therefore, know that there are many not yet born who are going to receive my words sweetly. Wherefore, as it says in my gospel: 'Blessed are they who hear the words of God'; so I say now: 'Blessed are they who now hear my words and will perform them in deed.' Nevertheless, know that after your passing more will receive my words and will follow them with sweetness, for they are not like a flower that will fall but like a fruit that lasts for eternity." One should know also that although during her husband's life Lady Birgitta had done some penance in a hidden way, nevertheless after his death she was not content with this penance. Indeed, for thirty years she used no linen garments except the veils for her head.
Also, before her bed, she had them put on the pavement a coverlet and a little cushion for under her head; and thus she used to sleep there, having over her a single garment or a mantle. When questioned as to how she could rest there in the very intense cold that prevails in those parts of Sweden, she spoke in answer: "I feel," she said, "within myself so great a warmth from divine grace that the cold that is without does not much urge me toward a softer bed."
Day and night, however, she was accustomed to perform so many genuflections, bows, and prostrations that it was a wonder that so tender a person could endure such great labors.
It was her custom too, on Fridays, to pour on her bare flesh flaming drops from a burning candle so that they left wounds remaining; and if at any time before the next Friday these wounds healed somewhat by themselves, she then at once put her nails in and plowed them so that her body would not be without the suffering of wounds; and this she did for the sake of the memory of the passion of Christ. She also had knotty bands of cord with which she girded herself right against her flesh and which she never removed, day or night, whether she was ill or well.
When, however, she came to these parts of Rome and of Italy, she visited the holy places with devotion and great frequency; and with sufficiently great toil to herself, she observed the practice of not speaking voluntarily with anyone on the way unless she happened to have been asked a question - in which case she replied with very few words to the one speaking to her. And whenever she uttered any unconsidered word, then at once, on the cord that hung upon her breast for saying the paternoster, she diligently noted that word by which she had offended God, in order that she might not neglect to confess it and make satisfaction for it by means of penance.
Similarly too, when she visited shrines, she held her eyes in check so as not to look voluntarily at the faces of human beings. When, however, it happened that she had suddenly looked into someone's face, at once, on that same chaplet that hung at her neck, she kept a token, until, through penance, satisfaction for it had been made.
From her infancy, she was accustomed to confess every Friday. But nevertheless, she was not content with this; no, she also confessed more than once on every day of the year concerning light words and thoughts. For in her there was fear of God together with great love of him.
On Fridays, indeed, because of Christ's passion and the bitterness of the drink of gall proffered to him before his death, she was accustomed to hold in her mouth a certain very bitter herb, which is called genciana. She also did this on other days when she had uttered some unconsidered or incautious word.
In making her confession, she was very humble and very prompt in fulfilling whatever things were enjoined upon her. Moreover, she so loved true humility that in no place did she wish to be without an instructor whom she humbly obeyed in all things. Moreover, she so loved poverty that everything that she had in her possession she put into the hands of another; and when she wished to have something, she asked her confessor the master for it in the name of Jesus Christ as humbly as if she had never possessed it.
She attended to the welfare of the persons living with her even more than she did to her own. For sometimes she was actually concealing her own ruined shoes even while asking for new ones to be given to others; and she acted similarly concerning other necessary things. Indeed, she very patiently endured everything that came; and the Blessed Virgin once spoke to her thus in a vision: "You," she said, should be like a mirror, clear and clean, and like a sharp thorn - a mirror through honest and godly behavior and through good example, but a thorn through denunciation of sinners.
In fact, Lady Birgitta well demonstrated the latter point; for, wherever she was, she did this to the best of her ability. She showed it well in Famagusta while, in the presence of the king and the queen and the princes and the other magnates of the kingdom of Cyprus, she seriously and boldly narrated a revelation made to her in Jerusalem concerning the kingdom of Cyprus - despite the fact that at that time she was physically weak and infirm. This revelation too is contained in the books of the Heavenly Revelations.
Moreover, in Naples too she did not keep silent about a revelation made to her concerning the people of that same city but related it in the presence of the archbishop and three masters of theology and other doctors of canon and civil law and the other lords and prudent men, both clerical and lay. She intrepidly reproved the sins of the city and showed how they might amend their lives - just as Jesus Christ had instructed her in a revelation and as it is more clearly and more amply recorded in the books of revelations.
Furthermore, while she was in Jerusalem, she began to weaken; and this infirmity of hers lasted for a whole year. And both at sea and on land, she most patiently endured fatigue and pain; and it was of this infirmity that she died in Rome.
It happened, finally, in Rome - five days before the day of her passing - that our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to her in front of the altar that stood in her chamber. He showed himself with a joyful face and said to her: "I had done to you what a bridegroom usually does, concealing himself from his bride so that he may be more ardently desired. Thus I have not visited you with consolations during this time; for it was the time of your testing. Therefore, now that you have been tested, go forward and prepare yourself; for now is the time when - as I had promised you - before my altar, you shall be clothed and consecrated as a nun. And henceforth you shall be counted not only as my bride, but also as a nun and a mother in Vadstena."
This is a certain villa that is called by this name; and there stands that monastery of nuns and brothers whose construction was revealed to her by God and where the said lady was to be buried. Finally Christ said to her: "Nevertheless, know that you will lay down your body in Rome until it come to the place prepared for it. For it pleases me to spare you from your labors and to accept your will in place of the completed action."
After these and many other things had been said, she made mention of and arrangements for some persons living with her and whom, before death, she said she had seen standing in God's presence.
After those things had been heard, the Lord added these words: "On the morning of the fifth day, after receiving the sacraments, call together one by one all those whom I named above; and to them tell the things to be done. And thus, amidst these words and their hands, you will come to your monastery - i.e., into my joy; and your body will be placed in Vadstena." Then, as the fifth day approached, at the moment of dawn, Christ appeared to her again and consoled her. But when Mass had been said and after she had received the sacraments, in the hands of the aforesaid persons she sent forth her spirit.