Monday, October 16, 2017

On Christ's Sufferings and Withdrawing from the World - Revelations of St. Bridget of Sweden

St. Bridget of Sweden is recorded as having received visitations from Our Blessed Lord, His Virgin Mother Mary and a number of other Saints and Angels. The Church does not obligate the faithful to accept these revelations, but has approved them as worthy of pious belief.  It is thus that I reproduce them here, in order to help stimulate in others the pious sentiments that reading them arouses in my own heart and soul, in the hope that others may gain profit thereby.


I am the Queen of Heaven, the Mother of God. I told you to wear a brooch on
your chest. I will now show you more fully how, from the beginning, when I first
heard and understood that God existed, I always, and with fear, was concerned
about my salvation and my observance of his commandments. But when I learned
more about God ‐ that he was my Creator and the judge of all my actions ‐ I loved
him more dearly, and I was constantly fearful and watchful so as to not offend him
by word or deed.

Later, when I heard that he had given the Law and the commandments to the
people and worked such great miracles through them, I made a firm decision in my
soul to never love anything but him, and all worldly things became most bitter to
me. When still later I heard that God himself would redeem the world and be born of
a Virgin, I was seized by such great love for him that I thought of nothing but God
and desired nothing but him. I withdrew myself, as much as I was able, from the
conversation and presence of parents and friends, and I gave away all my
possessions to the poor, and kept nothing for myself but meager food and clothing.

Nothing was pleasing to me but God! I always wished in my heart to live until
the time of his birth, and perhaps, deserve to become the unworthy handmaid of the
Mother of God. I also promised in my heart to keep my virginity, if this was
acceptable to him, and to have no possessions in the world. However, if God wanted
otherwise, my will was that his will, not mine, be done; for I believed that he could
do all things and wanted nothing but what was beneficial and best for me. Therefore,
I entrusted all my will to him.

When the time approached for the virgins to be presented in the temple of the
Lord, I was also among them due to the devout compliance of my parents to the
Law. I thought to myself that nothing was impossible for God, and since he knew
that I wanted and desired nothing but him, I knew that he could protect my
virginity, if it pleased him. However, if not, I wanted his will to be done. After I had
heard all the commandments in the temple, I returned home, burning even more
now than ever before with the love of God, being inflamed daily with new fires and
desires of love.

For this reason, I withdrew myself even more from everyone, and was alone
day and night, fearing greatly, and most of all, that my mouth should say anything,
or my ears hear anything against the will of my God, or that my eyes see anything
alluring or harmful. I was also afraid in the silence, and very worried that I might be
silent about things of which I should, instead, have spoken.

While I was worried in my heart like this, alone by myself and placing all my
hope in God, an inspiration about God’s great power came over me, and I recalled
how the angels and everything created serve him, and how his glory is indescribable
and unlimited. While I was thus fascinated by this thought, I saw three wonderful
things: I saw a star, but not the kind that shines in the sky; I saw a light, but not the
kind that shines in this world; I smelled a fragrance, but not of herbs or anything
else of this world. It was most delightful and truly indescribable, and it filled me up
so completely that I jubilated with joy!

After this, I immediately heard a voice ‐ but not from a human mouth ‐ and
when I heard it, I shuddered with the great fear that it might be an illusion, or a
mockery by an evil spirit. But shortly after this, an angel of God appeared before me;
he was like the most handsome of men, but not in the flesh as is the body of a
created man, and he said to me: ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee!’ When I
heard this, I wondered what he meant and why he had come to me with such a
greeting, for I knew and believed that I was unworthy of any such thing ‐ or any
good thing! However, I also knew that nothing is impossible for God, if he desires it.
Then the angel spoke again: ‘The child to be born in you is holy and will be
called the Son of God. May his will be done as it pleases him.’ But, not even then did I
consider myself worthy, and I did not ask the angel why, or when, this would
happen. Instead I asked him how it could be that I, an unworthy maiden, who did
not know any man, should become the Mother of God. The angel answered me (as I
have just said): ‘Nothing is impossible for God, for whatever he wants to do will be
done.’

When I had heard these words of the angel, I felt the most fervent desire to
become the Mother of God, and my soul spoke out of love and desire, saying: ‘See,
here I am; your will be done in me!’ With these words, my Son was conceived in my
womb to the indescribable joy of my soul and my every limb! While I had him in my
womb, I bore him without any pain, without any heaviness or discomfort. I humbled
myself in all things, knowing that he whom I bore was the Almighty!
When I gave birth to him, it was also without any pain or sin, just as I had
conceived him, but with such exaltation and joy of soul and body that my feet did
not feel the ground where they had been standing because of this indescribable joy!
Just as he had entered my limbs to the joy of all my soul, he left my body, leaving my
virginity intact, and my soul and whole body in a state of indescribable joy and
jubilation.

When I gazed upon and contemplated his beauty, joy seeped through my soul
like dewdrops and I knew myself to be unworthy of such a son. But when I
considered the places where (as I had learned from the predictions of the prophets)
nails would be pierced through his hands and feet at the crucifixion, my eyes filled
with tears and my heart was almost torn apart by sorrow.
When my Son saw my weeping eyes, he became almost deathly saddened.
However, when I considered his divine power, I was consoled again in knowing that
this was what he wanted and that it should happen in this way, and I joined all my
will to his. So my joy was always mixed with sorrow.
When the time of my Son’s suffering arrived, his enemies seized him and
struck him on the cheek and neck, spat at him and ridiculed him. Then he was led to
the pillar of torture where he voluntarily removed his clothes and placed his hands
around the pillar, and his enemies then mercilessly bound them. When he stood
bound at the pillar, he had no covering at all, but stood naked as he had been born,
suffering the shame of his nakedness.

Then all my Son’s friends fled from him, and his enemies came together from
all directions and stood there, scourging his body, which was pure from every stain
and sin. I was standing nearby, and at the very first lashing, I fell down as if I were
dead. When I regained consciousness, I saw his body whipped and scourged so
badly that the ribs were visible! What was even more terrible – when the whip was
pulled out, his flesh was furrowed and torn by it, just as the earth is by a plough! As
my Son was standing there, all bloody and wounded, so that no place could be found
on him that was still intact and no sound spot could be scourged, then someone
present there, aroused in spirit, asked: ‘Are you going to kill him before he is even
judged?’ And he cut off his bonds immediately.

Then my Son put his clothes back on, and I saw that the place where he had
been standing was filled with blood! By observing my Son’s footprints, I could see
where he had walked because the ground was bloody there as well. They did not
even wait for him to get dressed, but pushed and dragged him to make him hurry
up. While my Son was being led away like a robber, he wiped the blood from his
eyes. When he had been sentenced to death, they placed the cross on him so that he
could carry it to the place of suffering. When he had carried it for a while, a man
came along and took the cross to carry it for him. As my Son was going to the place
of suffering, some people hit him on the neck, while others hit him in the face. He
was so brutally and forcefully beaten that, although I did not see who hit him, I
heard the sound of the blow clearly. When I reached the place of suffering with him,
I saw all the instruments of his death lying there ready. When my Son got there, he
took off his clothes by himself.

The executioners and the crucifiers said to each other: ‘These are our clothes!
He will not get them back because he is condemned to death!’ As my Son was
standing there, naked as he had been born, a man came running up and handed him
a cloth with which he joyfully covered his private parts. Then the cruel executioners
seized him and stretched him out on the cross. First, they fastened his right hand to
the wooden beam (which was fashioned with holes for the nails), piercing the hand
at the place where the bone was most solid and firm. Then they pulled out his other
hand with a rope and fastened it, in a similar way, to the beam. Next they crucified
the right foot ‐ with the left foot on top of it ‐ with two nails, so that all his sinews
and veins were stretched so much that they burst. After they had done this, they put
the crown of thorns[1] on his head. It cut into my Son’s venerable head so deeply
that his eyes were filled with blood as it flowed down, his ears were blocked by it,
and his beard was totally soaked with it. As he stood there, so bloody and pierced,
he felt sorry for me, for I was standing nearby and crying. Looking with his bloodfilled
eyes upon my nephew, John, he commended me to his care. At that moment I
heard some people saying that my Son was a robber! Others said that he was a liar,
and others that no one deserved to die more than did my Son!

My sorrow was renewed from hearing all this. And, as I said before, when the
first nail was driven into him, I became overwhelmed by the sound of the first strike
and fell down as if dead with darkened eyes, trembling hands, and faltering legs. In
my bitter pain and great sorrow, I was not able to look up again until he had been
completely nailed to the cross. But when I got up, I saw my Son hanging pitifully, and
I, his most sorrowful Mother, was so grieved and heartbroken that I could barely
stand up because of my great and bitter sorrow. When my Son saw me and his
friends in inconsolable tears, he called out with a loud and sorrowful voice to his
Father, saying: ‘Father, why have you forsaken me?’ It was as if he wanted to say:
‘There is no one who pities me but you, Father.’

By this time, his eyes seemed half‐dead. His cheeks were sunken, his face was
sorrowful, his mouth open, and his tongue was bloody. His stomach was pressed in
towards his back because of all the liquid that had been lost. It was as if he had no
intestines. All of his body was pale and languid because of the loss of blood. His
hands and feet were very rigidly outstretched, for they had been extended and made
to conform to the shape of the cross. His beard and hair were completely soaked
with blood. When my Son stood there so bruised and pale blue, only his heart was
still vigorous, for it was of the best and strongest nature. He had taken from my flesh
the most pure and well‐wrought body. His skin was so thin and tender that blood
flowed out of it instantly if he was scourged even slightly. His blood was so fresh
that it could be seen inside the pure skin. And because he had the very best
constitution, life contended with death in his pierced body. Sometimes the pain from
his pierced limbs and sinews rose up to his heart, which was still completely
vigorous and unhurt and tormented it with the most unendurable pain and
suffering. Sometimes the pain descended from his heart into his wounded limbs and,
in so doing, prolonged his bitter death.

Surrounded by these pains, my Son beheld his weeping friends who, with his
help, would rather have suffered his pain themselves or have burned in hell for all
time than to see him tortured in this way. His sorrow over his friends’ sorrow
exceeded all the bitterness and grief which he had endured in body and heart, for he
loved them so tenderly. Then, out of the exceedingly great suffering and anguish of
his body, he cried out on account of his Manhood to the Father: ‘Father, into your
hands I commend my spirit.’ When I, his most sorrowful Mother heard his voice, my
whole body trembled in the bitter pain of my heart. As often as I later thought on
this cry, it was as if still present and fresh in my ears.

When his death drew near, his heart burst because of the violence of the pain.
His whole body convulsed, and his head raised itself a little, and then dropped down
again. His mouth was open and his tongue was completely bloody. His hands
retracted a little from the place of the nail holes, and his feet were made to bear
more of the weight of his body. His fingers and arms were stretched out somewhat,
and his back was tightly pressed against the cross.

Then some people said to me: ‘Your Son is dead, Mary!’ But others said: ‘He is
dead, but he will rise again.’ When everyone was going away, a man came and thrust
his spear into his side so forcefully that it almost went out the other side! When the
spear was pulled out, its point appeared to be red with blood. It seemed to me then,
when I saw my beloved Son’s heart pierced, that my own heart had been pierced as
well!

Then he was taken down from the cross and I received his body onto my lap.
He looked like a leper, and was completely covered with bruises and blood. His eyes
were lifeless and filled with blood, his mouth as cold as ice, his beard like string, his
face paralyzed, and his hands were so stiffened that they could not be bent over his
chest, but only over his stomach, near the navel. I had him on my knee just as he had
been on the cross: stiffened in all his limbs.

After this, they laid him in a clean linen cloth and I dried his limbs with my
own linen cloth and closed his eyes and mouth, which he had opened when he died.
Then they laid him in the grave. I would willingly have been placed alive in the grave
with my Son if it had been his will! When these things were done, good John came
and brought me home. Behold, my daughter, what my Son has endured for you, and
love him with all your heart!


[1] Explanation from Book 7 ‐ Chapter 15: "Then the crown of thorns, which they
had removed from his head when he was being crucified, they now put back, fitting
it onto his most holy head. It pricked his awesome head with such force that then
and there his eyes were filled with flowing blood and his ears were obstructed."