Saint Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad


Feastday: June 5.

Blessed Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad was born in the little village of Faglavik, in the province of Alvsborg, on the 4 June 1870.
She was a Swedish nurse who was a convert to the Roman Catholic Church and founded a new form of life of the Bridgettines known as the Bridgettine Sisters.

Pope John Paul II beatified her on 9 April 2000 and Pope Francis approved her canonization in late 2015; the canonization date was determined on 15 March 2016 and is to be celebrated on 5 June 2016.


Early life and conversion

Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad was the fifth of thirteen children born to August Robert Hesselblad and Cajsa Petersdotter Dag, a Lutheran family in Fåglavik in Västra Götaland County.

By 1886, she had to work to help them make ends meet. At first she looked for work in Sweden, but eventually emigrated to the United States of America in 1888, where she studied nursing at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. While there, she did home nursing, which brought her into contact with the Catholic faith of many of the poor for whom she cared. She developed an interest in that faith, and on 15 August 1902 she received conditional baptism from a Jesuit priest, Giovanni Hagen, in the chapel of the Convent of the Visitation in Washington, D.C.

As a religious

Hesselblad then made a pilgrimage to Rome, where she received the sacrament of Confirmation. She also visited the House of St. Bridget of Sweden there, where the medieval saint had spent the last half of her life, which made a deep impression upon her. At that point she felt called to dedicate her life to the work of Christian unity. She returned to New York briefly, only to go back to Rome, where, on 25 March 1904, she was welcomed as a guest by the nuns of the Carmelite monastery housed there. She petitioned the Holy See to be able to make religious vows under the Rule of the Order which Brigid had founded, and had been a prominent presence in the Church in Sweden before the Protestant Reformation had taken hold there. She received special permission for this from Pope Pius X in 1906, at which time she assumed the Bridgettine religious habit, including its distinctive element of a silver crown.

Hesselblad attempted to revive interest in the Order and its founder in both Sweden and Rome. Her proposal to establish a monastery of the Order on the site where Bridget had lived received no volunteers from the few monasteries of the Order still in existence. Giving up on the intention of following the established way of life in the Order, she proposed one which included the care of the sick. To this end she was joined by three young women from England, whom she received on 9 November 1911, with which the new congregation was established. Their particular mission was to pray and work, especially for the unity of Scandinavian Christians with the Catholic Church.

Hesselblad returned to her homeland of Sweden in 1923, where she was able to establish a community in Djursholm, while she worked nursing the sick poor. The new congregation was established in England in 1931. That same year, Hesselblad obtained the House of St. Bridget in Rome for her new congregation. A foundation was made in India in 1937 which drew many new members.

Hesselblad also worked at efforts at inter-religious dialogue and against racism, and became known as "the second Bridget".


Blessed Elizabeth Hessellbad died in Rome on 24 April 1957.


Process and beatification

The sainthood process commenced in Rome in 1987 and concluded its work in 1990. During this period the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved the cause and her being granted the title of Servant of God on 4 February 1988.

The diocesan process was ratified on 21 June 1991 which allowed for the submission of the Positio to Rome for further investigation. Pope John Paul II proclaimed her to be Venerable on 26 March 1999 after he recognized that she had lived a model Christian life of heroic virtue.

The miracle requested for her beatification was investigated in 1996 and received ratification on 17 October 1998. The pope approved it in 2000 allowing for her beatification on the following 9 April 2000.


On 14 December 2015, Pope Francis approved the second miracle attributed to her which would allow for her future canonization set for 2016; it was decided at an ordinary consistory of cardinals on 15 March 2016 and is scheduled for 5 June 2016.

Yad Vashem

In 2004 Yad Vashem recognized her as a Righteous Among the Nations due to her work in assisting Jews during World War II.

See also

Rescue of Jews by Catholics during the Holocaust


Last news:

Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad is canonized June 5, 2016, Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope Francis.


Source Wikipedia:


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