Ave Maris Stella
July 19th, 1992
Brother John Raymond
St. Bridget was born in Sweden in 1303. Her father and mother
were pious Catholics. The family would discuss the stories of the
martyrs who died for the faith in Sweden. The castle the family lived
in contained a chapel in which little child would attend Holy Mass
daily. When she was ten a sermon about Our Lord's sufferings pierced
her to the heart. She was so distraught that night that Jesus appeared
to her on the Cross. She asked Him who has done this. He replied,
"Those who despise Me and forget My love." For this time forward
Christ crucified was imprinted on her soul.
She married a wealthy man named Ulf who later was to occupy
a high office of the State. Saint Bridget became the mother of eight
children. Also she was in charge of running their vast estate. This
was no small task in the 1300's. There were spinning wheels and looms,
orchards and fields, brewing, storing fruit, baking, dovecots,
poultry yards, and beehives to contend with. Every day, before sitting
down to eat St. Bridget would serve a meal to twelve poor people. On
Thursdays she would even wash their feet in imitation of Our Blessed
Lord. St. Bridget would always take her children along on works of
mercy to the poor to train them in doing good works for others.
After twenty-five years of marriage St. Bridget and her husband
received an inspiration to voluntarily seperate and become religious.
For three years Ulf lived as a guest in a Cistercian abbey where he
died. Later St. Bridget was given permission to live as a guest of
this same monastery. She now began a life of intensive penance,
prayer, and mortification. She had frequent visions of Our Lord's
Passion along with representations of Heaven, hell and purgatory.
She would often see souls she had prayed for who were dying or in
purgatory ascending to Heaven.
Saint Bridget received the gift of prophecy. She administered
strong rebukes by Heaven's command to those leading evil lives. Many
denounced her and some even threatened to burn her. She advised many
high people in office, even the king himself.
Saint Bridget was entrusted with two main missions from Heaven
both of which she labored at diligently but were to be completed by
others. Our Lord revealed to her that He wished her to found a new
contemplative religious order based on a rule which He was to give
her. This new order, now known as the Bridgettines, were to have a
great impact on the Church under the guidance of her daughter, Saint
Katherine, who became the first Superior. Today there are still a
number of houses in Europe, such as Syon Abbey in Devon, England.
The second mission was to try to persuade the Holy Father to
return to Rome from France. Though she sent many messages to him she
would not live to see him return. But she paved the way for another
great mystic, St. Catherine of Siena who would succeed in bringing
the Pope back to Rome.
St. Bridget lived in Rome with her daughter Katherine. They
helped the poor, the afflicted, and the sinners. The miraculous began
to be publicly observed in the life of St. Bridget. She healed the
sick, was raised off the ground during prayer, and had many visions.
Long before she had joined the third order of Saint Francis and had
pleasure of seeing him in a vision when visiting his shrine. Before
her life came to a close she was commanded by Our Lord to visit the
Holy Land. During this visit she had many visions of the life of Jesus
Now as her life came to a close St. Bridget was to suffer the
martyrdom of faith. All visions and heavenly consolations ceased. She
was plagued with the temptation that her life was a failure. However
towards her last days on earth the Blessed Mother appeared to her and
exhorted her to practice patience in the expiation of the negligences
and defects of her life through her illnesses. She ended her life as
a lesson to us all with the words, "Lord into Thy hands I commend my
After her death innumerable cures were reported through her
intercession. So great was the effect of this great saint that even
today the largely Lutheran Swedish nation honors her considering her
one of their great women of Sweden.
During a riot at Rome, a mob came to the house where St.
Bridget lived. One of the leaders talked of burning St. Bridget alive.
She prayed to Our Lord to know if she should escape to safety. Jesus
advised her to stay saying, "It doesn't matter if they plot your death.
My power will break the malice of your enemies. I was crucified only
because I permitted it." Our Blessed Mother added, "Sing as a group
the Ave Maris Stella (Hail, Star of the Sea) and I'll guard you from
Ave Maris Stella (Written by an unknown author before the ninth
Hail Thou star of ocean
Portal of the sky
Ever virgin Mother
Of the Lord Most High
O! by Gabriel's Ave,
Uttered long ago,
Eva's name reversing
Established peace below
Break the captives' fetters,
Light on blindness pour,
All our ills expelling,
Every bliss implore
As Thou art our Mother,
Offer Him our sighs,
Who for us incarnate
Did not Thee despise
Virgin of all virgins
To Thy shelter take us,
Gentlest of the gentle
Chaste and gentle make us
Still, as on we journey,
Help our weak endeavor,
Till with Thee and Jesus
We rejoice forever
Through the highest heaven,
To the Almighty Three
Father, Son and Spirit,
One same glory be. Amen.