Beauty Highlighted as a Way of Evangelization and Unity

Scholars Meet to Discuss St. Bridget of Sweden

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ROME, OCT. 7, 2002 ( An international congress on St. Bridget of Sweden focused on a sublime link: the relation between beauty and evangelical justice.

The congress was organized by St. Bridget’s Order of the Most Holy Savior and gathered Christian intellectuals to explored ways to evangelize and seek unity through beauty, as did the 14th-century «Northern mystic.»

Participants in the symposium, held in the Vatican Palace of the Chancellery, agreed that St. Bridget (1303-1373) was «paradigmatic, incarnating with her life the way of beauty to achieve unity,» first as wife and mother and then as a religious and founder.

«The Way of Beauty,» as the congress was entitled, gathered experts on St. Bridget and the other two co-patronesses of Europe, St. Catherine of Siena and St. Edith Stein. Among other speakers who addressed the congress were experts in sacred music, family pastoral care and ecumenism.

Sister Beata Rohdin, responsible for the formation of Brigittines in Northern Europe, presented Bridget as an example for the laity and the consecrated, as the Swedish saint lived both these states in an exemplary way.

For Sister Rohdin, Bridget is a stimulus to «rediscover the beauty of the lived Gospel,» and an invitation to Christian communities in Europe to follow the ways of beauty that flow from the Gospel, «beauty founded on human and Christian values.»

«Bridget is a bridge between the Churches of Northern Europe and Rome and between Lutherans and Catholics,» Sister Rohdin concluded.

In her address on Catherine of Siena, professor Giuliana Cavallini, director of the Centro Nazionali di Studi Cateriniani of Italy, described the doctor of the Church as a «passionate defender of the truth» and a person concerned with political affairs and justice.

Rafaela Pozzi, a professor of history and philosophy who did her dissertation on Edith Stein, spoke about the Carmelite saint. Pozzi focused on Stein’s understanding of woman and her vocation. In this connection, she said that the saint — also known as Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross — maintained that «woman has a specific vocation, which is characterized by being more contemplative, concrete, organic and less conceptual than man’s vocation.»

During his address, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said that he hoped the congress would «help to rediscover the inseparable alliance between beauty and justice, which Christianity has been able to synthesize since the beginning.»

The congress was organized in the framework of activities held in Rome to recall St. Bridget’s message, on the eve of the celebration of the 700th anniversary of her birth. That celebration culminated Friday with solemn ecumenical vespers presided over by John Paul II.

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