[Order of the Holy Saviour]
Religious order named after its foundress, St Bridget of Sweden (c. 1303–73; can 1391), a devout woman with Swedish court connections. In 1346 she founded Vadstena Abbey in Sweden, which she intended to be an influential spiritual centre reflecting the original group of the faithful with the Virgin at its head. Vadstena became the model for other Brigittine houses. Bridget went to Rome in 1349 to seek approval for her Order, dying there after returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Her body was returned to Vadstena in 1374.
The Brigittine Rule, the Regula Sancti Salvatoris, supposedly was revealed to Bridget by Christ. With the Augustinian Rule (see Augustinian Canons §1), it formed the constitution of the Order, which was finally recognized by Pope Urban VI (reg 1378–89) in a bull of 1378. The Order flourished mainly in northern Europe in the later Middle Ages. Intended primarily for women, it had double houses with separate but adjacent convents for men and women, sharing a church. Monks were superior in spiritual matters, the abbess in all else. Monasteries were large by contemporary standards, the rule stipulating that they should have 85 members. Convents were consecrated at Vadstena in ...