CONVENT » The Bridgettine Convent and Guest House

The bridgettine Order
Ordo Sanctissimi Salvatoris

Founder of the Order is St. Birgitta (1303-1373), born in Uppland, Sweden. She was canonized in 1391. The rule for Bridgettine sisters was accepted in Rome 1378. The first convent was founded in Vadstena Sweden. First Abbess was St. Catharina (Birgitta’s daughter) until 1381. She was canonized in 1489.

The Bridgettine Order has four branches: 
  • Medieval branch, 2 convents (Vadstena, Uden) 
  • Swedish branch, 50+ convents, also Turku.
  • Spanish branch, Marina Escobar, 5 convents.
  • Brigittine monks, 1 priory (Oregon, USA)

The original St. Birgitta’s rule stated that a convent was supposed to have 60 nuns and 12 monks. Such convents exist no more.

The Swedish branch of the Bridgettine Order

This branch was founded by Swedish nurse Elisabeth Hesselblad in 1911. The branch has now more than 50 convents, in Sweden, India, Mexico, Cuba, Philippines, USA, Finland, Estonia and Germany. The convent in Turku was founded in 1986. Now the convent has 9 sisters, prioress is mother Bernabé. Sisters come from India, Mexico and Italy. The Swedish branch has 2 Finnish sisters, sr. Marja-Liisa (Rome) and sr. Irenea (Rome). The mother convent of the Order is in Rome, where also two other convents are situated. There is also a Bridgettine convent in Naples, Italy. The greatest number of convents is, however, situated in India.

The Bridgettine Sisters keep and practice those devotions which were particularly dear to Saint Bridget. Contemplation and Veneration of the Humanity of the Word, filial devotion to the Mother of God; meditation on the Passion of our Lord and Crucial Christ. These devotions, together with the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, are the hallmarks of their piety. The Charisma of Mother Elisabeth can be summed up by the following three words: “Contemplation, Adoration and Reparation”. 

As regards the Monastic tradition, the Bridgettine sisters’ chief obligation is Liturgical prayer, singing the daily Divine Office. The sisters take part daily in Holy Mass and there is Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament every day. Central to the sisters’ work is the hospitality (in Guest Houses) , answering the needs of many pilgrims. The Bridgettine sisters have a special mission furthering Ecumenical work and the sisters are happy to receive guests from other Christian communities. They also arrange conferences and retreats.  

In addition, the Order undertakes missionary, charitable and social work in co-operation with the local Church. In some houses the sisters also work as catechists, run nursery schools, orphanages and provide homes for students and old people. The Bridgettine sisters are established in three continents, in 53 houses.

Saint Maria Elisabeth Hesselblad

M. Elisabeth Hesselblad was born in Fåglavik, West Gothland of Sweden in 1870 and died in Rome 1957. She was 18 years old when she immigrated to the USA and studied there to be a nurse. She gave part of her income to her poor family in Sweden. In 1902 she converted to Catholicism and traveled to Rome in 1903. There she settled to live in the house of St. Bridget, where the saint had lived in the 14th century. In 1903 the house belonged to Carmelite sisters. The founding year of the new Bridgettine branch is considered to be 1911. The new branch was able to occupy St. Bridget´s house only in 1931. The mother convent of the Order is now in this house. During WW2 and persecution of Jews in Italy mother Elisabeth gave shelter for Jews in the convent, and she was therefore post mortem granted the honorific Righteous among People by State of Israel. She was beatified in 2000 and canonized in 2015.

Mother Elisabeths great dream was the unity of Christians within the Catholic Church. Therefore the Order is ecumenical, in Finland contacts are maintained with the Lutheran church. We always celebrate Holy Mass on October 7th, the day of Birgitta’s canonisation, in Naantali church (former Bridgettine convent’s church, now Lutheran). The Association of Birgitta’s friends' board has also Lutheran and Russian Orthodox members.

He has said: ”Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” If He is our ideal, all will go well in all times of our life.

Trust God’s limitless love and rest on His arms like a small child on his mother’s arms.

God is love! His love grows from day to day in our hearts, we can finally carol: ”It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

On this earthly pilgrimage we must always carry small crosses, as Lord himself has said: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Contact us
Ursininkatu 15 a, 20100 Turku