Lives of the Saints

Our Models and Protectors

March 22
  March 24

Saint Catherine of Sweden

Queen and widow, daughter of Saint Bridget
(1322-1381)

Saint Catherine of Sweden
Saint Catherine of Sweden

Saint Catherine was the daughter of Saint Bridget of Sweden and of Ulpho, Prince of Nericia, a region of the same land. The love of God seemed to hasten in her the use of her reason, and at seven years of age she was placed in the convent of Risburgh, to be educated in piety under the care of the holy abbess of that house. Being very beautiful, she was promised by her father in marriage to a young nobleman of great virtue; but the virgin persuaded her suitor to join with her in making a mutual vow of perpetual chastity. Listening to her discourses, the young man became desirous only for heavenly graces, and, to draw them down upon his soul in greater abundance, he readily acquiesced to the proposal. The happy couple, having but one heart and one desire, by a holy emulation encouraged each other to prayer, mortification, and works of charity.

After the death of her father, Saint Catherine, out of devotion to the Passion of Christ and to the relics of the martyrs, obtained her spouse's permission to join her mother in her well-known pilgrimages and practices of devotion and penance in Rome. She went to her there and they visited the tombs of the martyrs and the churches, and together practiced mortification and works of piety, caring for the sick in the hospitals. Not long afterward, Catherine's royal spouse died piously and then she found herself obliged to refuse numerous requests for her hand in marriage. When her mother died in 1373, she returned to Sweden, taking the mortal remains of Saint Bridget with her for burial. Catherine entered a monastery at Vatzan, where after a life of severe penance, she died on the 24th of March in 1381. For the last twenty-five years of her life Saint Catherine had purified her soul daily by the sacramental confession of her sins.

Reflection. Whoever has to dwell in the world stands in need of great prudence; the Holy Scripture itself assures us that the knowledge of the saints is prudence. (Prov. 9:10)

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler's Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950).