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Reviews 203 authored cast their collaboration in the language of marriage, and Christ himself was claimed as the source of the publication of the visions. Elliott is particularly interested in John's control of sources regarding Dorothea as it pertained to the process of her canonization. At the conclusion of this book there is a strong sense of the very unified subject matter and conclusions drawn throughout the essays, despite their ranging over several centuries and a wide geographical reference. The notes, bibliography and index are extensive (pp. 193-276). In conclusion, this volume is highly recommended as a welcome extension of the ongoing investigation ofthe lives ofthe w o m e n mystics ofthe High and Late Middle Ages. Carole M. Cusack Studies in Religion University of Sydney Morris, Bridget, St Birgitta of Sweden (Studies in Medieval Mysticism 1), Woodbridge, Boydell Press, 1999; cloth; pp. xi, 202; 7 b/w illustrations, 2 maps; R R P £35, US$60; ISBN 0851157270. The study of medieval women mystics has been a growth industry for nearly twenty years. This study of Birgitta of Sweden (c. 1303-1373), a w o m a n from a country on the fringes of Europe w h o resided in R o m e and influenced popes and secular rulers, founded an order of her own devising, and w h o was the only fourteenth-century w o m a n to have been canonised in that century, is a welcome addition to the existing body of literature. Bridget Morris' book considers Birgitta's Swedish context, the events of her life, her posthumous canonisation, and her legacy in the Birgittine Order. Underlying this 'outward' picture of the saint is a close examination of the texts of her mystical revelations, numbering approximately 700. These were posthumously edited by Birgitta's last confessor, Alphonso of Jaen, and a final edition was ready for the canonisation proceedings of 1391. Morris also considers the Swedish textual tradition, which includes two short autographs, the Swedish translations of the Latin texts prepared specially for the nuns of the convent of Vadstena where Birgitta's daughter Katarina was thefirstabbess, and the vitae written by her two Swedish confessors, Peter Olafsson of Alvastra and Peter Olafsson of Skanninge, as well as later versions of her life, such as that by the fifteenth-century abbess ofVadstena, Margareta Clausdottir. 204 Reviews Chapter One, 'The Swedish Roots' describes fourteenth-century Sweden, including much detail about climate and travel, domestic life and politics. Much of this discussion is related to the use of imagery and detail in Birgitta's revelations, which are 'a valuable source of information about life in medieval Sweden' (p. 21). Chapter Two, 'Childhood, Marriage and Motherhood', examines the status of Birgitta's family and their connections with other powerful families and the Church. Childhood tales of Birgitta from the vitae are treated cautiously as evidence as they conform to standard hagiographical practice, but Morris notes that 'in a real sense they highlight the tension between the worldly and the spiritual life' (p. 40). Birgitta's marriage to Ulf Gudmarsson in 1316 highlighted this tension. W o m e n were perceived as more likely to attain sanctity if they remained virginal, but well-bom girls were expected to marry. Birgitta and Ulf had an apparently successful marriage and eight children, four sons and four daughters. Their wealth allowed them to travel on pilgrimage and they went to Santiago de Compostela in 1341. Ulf died in 1344 or 1346, and Birgitta received her 'calling vision' a few days after his death. Needing recognition for her visionary gifts, she moved into the Cistercian monastery ofAlvastra, where Ulf was buried. Peter Olafsson ofAlvastra became her confessor. This was a time of maturation in her visionary life. Many of the revelations from this period are addressed to high-ranking clerics or secular leaders and discuss political issues. By 1346 the revelations had been examined by ecclesiastical leaders and declared divine in origin, and King Magnus Eriksson had bequeathed to her the palace of Vadstena so she could found a convent. The second stage of Birgitta's visionary career began in 1349 when she set out for Rome...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 203-205
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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