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
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
In 2004 Yad Vashem recognized her as a
Righteous Among the Nations due to her
work in assisting Jews during World War II.
Rescue of Jews by Catholics during the Holocaust
Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad is
canonized June 5, 2016, Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope Francis.
- Foundation Marypages -
Our foundation has the
objective to develop, expand and maintain the Marypages website to
promote the Roman Catholic belief and especially the Devotion of Our
Blessed Mother, Mary.
With your financial support you will make this possible.
Marypages can only survive with your help!
can become a donator of our foundation by donating at least 20 Euro per
year. We will then offer you:
If your donation is 50 Euro or
higher, then you will also receive a beautiful rosary from Lourdes. In the rosary is a little holy water from the source in Lourdes.
Any extra income generated will be donated to
compassionate projects with a Catholic basis. We are registered at the
Chamber of Commerce Flevoland under number 39100629.
To make a donation, please click
the button below.
God bless you.