St. Bridget of Sweden: Prophet for a World of Tensions

Interview with Tekla Famiglietti, Mother General of the Brigittines

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ROME, OCT. 4, 2002 (ZENIT.orgAvvenire).- Mother Tekla Famiglietti, Mother General of the 600 Brigittine religious in the world, has many books on Church history in her office as well as a photograph of herself with Fidel Castro.

Today she was to celebrate the seventh centenary of the birth of St. Bridget, co-patroness of Europe. John Paul II convoked an ecumenical celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica for the occasion.

For its part, St. Bridget’s Order of the Most Holy Savior has organized a congress in Rome today and Saturday, with the theme “The Way of Beauty: Toward a More Just and Worthy World.”

Q: If St. Bridget of Sweden, pioneer woman of the 14th century, were alive today, would she speak to Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush and ask for peace?

Mother Famiglietti: Her present importance lies in the prophetic mission the Lord entrusted to her. And I think that “God’s mouthpiece,” as she was described, can remind people today of the primacy of God, and the need for prayer and penance for the reparation of sins.

Her time was not lacking in problems: France and England were at war; the Pope was away from Rome in Avignon; there were customs that were not irreproachable, even in the Church. St. Bridget reminds every one of their duties and she does so in obedience to what the Lord dictated to her. Therefore, in addition to being spiritual, her message becomes political, in the highest sense of the term.

Q: Why have you decided to speak on “the way of beauty” in this congress organized for this centenary?

Mother Famiglietti: The way of beauty was one of the paths that St. Bridget indicated, with her example and her life, to people who wish to begin on the Gospel journey.

She shows the attractive countenance of the humanity of the incarnate Word, but without forgetting the way of the cross because Christianity is born from the darkness of Good Friday; the way of education because she, wife and mother of eight children, encourages us to put the family at the center again, the way of holiness and, naturally, the way of unity.

Q: Unity is, perhaps, the best-known aspect of the Swedish saint.

Mother Famiglietti: Yes, because she worked tirelessly to repair the breaks in the Church. Suffice it to think of all she did so that the Pope would return from Avignon to Rome. And, therefore, although her life preceded the Lutheran schism by 150 years, she can be considered a teacher of ecumenism.

Q: What is the lesson for those who long to take steps toward the unity of Christians?

Mother Famiglietti: She encourages us in the direction of a spiritual ecumenism that at the same time is active, appealing to all believers in Christ to grow in communion through prayer and the “martyrdom” of a faith lived evangelically.

This is what we try to do in our 44 houses spread around the world, promoting adoration and what we describe as the ecumenism of friendship, respect and acceptance. Because the more we get to know one another, including from the human aspect, the more we will be able to walk swiftly on the way of unity.

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