Female Saints

Sigtuna with history and dating back to the Celtic Christianity from Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Brittany and Galicien in Spain.
The story goes through three female saints who intertwined the dawn of time with religion, myths and legends have been key bearers of the Light.

Saint Brigid, 600-700 's, a christianceltic saint from Ireland.

Ingegerd of Sigtuna, 1100's, daughter of Sweden's first Christian king, and later exalted as a saint, St. Anna of Novgorod.

Saint Birgitta, 1400s, our country's most famous saint, born in Finsta in Uppland or Fresta in Upplands Väsby.

Here, we follow how the Celtic saint Brigida associated with Sweden's Christian spirit, through Husaby in Västergötland to Sigtuna with Ingegerd and St. Birgitta and further into Europe. Interest and books about this subject started coming to me in 2012 and culminated in a vacation trip in summer 2013 to the area of Västergötland, visiting Husaby at Kinnekulle, Varnhem and Gudhem. This is my personal reflections that I have collected facts from various sources which are written at the bottom of the page.

the Holy Spirit
Let's start right away when Christianity had come to the Celts under 400 century AD in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Bretagne and Galicien. The early Celtic Christianity was inspired by the early church and the desert fathers, without interference from Rome.
The characteristic high Celtic suncross you have to search all the way to Armenia to find something similar.
The ring in the center of the cross is the circle representing the sun.

There are also similarities with the icons that were in the Egyptian , Coptic and Syriac churches . Eventually, strong Christian impulses and missionary efforts of Rome and particularly from Gallien (France), inspired by St. Martin of Tours, who founded the first Christian monastery in western Europe. The monks of Tours took St Martin's monastery rule with him and were the first to establish monasteries in Wales.

St. Patrick on 400 's was the one who organized the Christian Church in Ireland and became its national saint.


Celtic sun cross
Saint Brigid is the most famous saint second only to St. Patrick. Myths and legend material around the pre-Christian fertility goddess Brigantia which was fire and poetry goddess, transferred to the Christian convent founder and saint Brigid.

She decided to give her life to God, and was joined by seven other women. The eight sisters built his first monastery under a large oak tree, the Celtic Cill Dara "church in oak grove". Today the place is called Kildare.

This monastery became an important spiritual center with Saint Brigid as abedissa over both women and men. She was almost like a heavenly queen of the Virgin Mary's dignity, and she has been called "the Gaelic" Mary.

In Wales, she was called St. Ffraid or St. Isfryde in Scotland, she was hailed as St. Bride. She gave the name to a long list of churches and holy places.
Saint Brigid
Meetings with the Christian culture and on to our land through western Sweden on 700 's, consisted of Nordic merchants. This before the Vikings began to ravage and before Ansgar time. Saint Brigid was in early christening stage in Sweden a supported saint of the Diocese of Skara.

Baptism in Husaby
Olof Skötkonung was being baptized into the Christian faith in the Saint Brigid's well in Husaby, Västergötland by the English bishop Sigfrid from York, so in early 1100's. It was also Skötkonung who established the first episcopal seat of Skara.

The well is located just below the Kingsgarden and taken good care by the Bishop Guarantees hostel.
Saint Brigid is the patron for the blacksmiths and in Husaby lives the only Nordic female masterblacksmith, Therese Englund.
The Church, the smith and the Bishop hostel have organized the celebrating of Saint Brigid feast day the first of February, since 2013 at the well.

Olof Skötkonung became the first Christian king. His father, Erik Segersäll founded Sigtuna as a Christian city and the power of the political center, and Sigtuna became an internationally recognized location.
Martagon at Husaby Church
Olof Skötkonungs daughter, Ingegerd Olofsdotter was growing up in Sigtuna and it was here Olof Skötkonung let made the first Swedish coins. The trade took place between people from all over Scandinavia, Friesland (now Holland), the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire and the current Russia, Ukraine and Poland. As a princess, she was pulled into a power struggle with Norway's King Olav, when he against Olof Skötkonungs will supposedly courted Ingegerd as an act of peace. He married instead of Ingegerd's sister Astrid.
Ingegerd other hand, was married off to the Russian Tsar Jaroslav and became Grand Duchess of Rus Empire (Ukraine).

She came to build cathedrals of stone in Rus Empire long before some stone churches were founded in Svea kingdom, and ended her life as the words sister in the Eastern Church with the new name Anna. She was given a political role as peacemaker in Rus and is today a symbol of the unity of the Church. Through their four daughters became Ingegerd ancestor of several royal lineages to royal houses in Europe and later became a supported saint St. Anna of Novgorod.
Ingegerd's mortal remains, together with the spouse in a sarcophagus in Sofia Cathedral in Kiev.
She celebrated today as a saint in the Orthodox Church in Sweden.

Sigtuna is celebrated every year the Day of Ingegerd. and Sigtuna Museum has in 2013 had a princess exhibition "From Ingegerd to Estelle."
A pilgrim trail, the trail of Ingegerd has been inaugurated in 2014 in St Mary's church in Sigtuna. The trail goes between Stockholm and Uppsala via Sigtuna.
A book about the Ingegerd trail has been published 2014 by the Swedish Church, spirituality, culture and peace.
See more info under sources.
Ingegerd Olofsdotter/
  Saint Anna av Novgorod
Our third saint who is by far Sweden's most famous saint is Saint Birgitta. New findings show that either she is born in Finsta in Uppland or in Fresta in Upplands Väsby, both situated a few kilometers away from Sigtuna. According to Bengt Wadensjö, Bishop Emeritus and Associate Professor of Church History in Uppsala, she was namned after our Celtic Saint Brigid. Revelations of St. Birgitta and her convent in Vadstena organization has parallels with the Saint Brigid.

In Finsta is the Saint Birgitta cave of prayer. And in the Fresta congregation, they have several projects in Birgitta’s spirit, including a Birgitta Lund.
The most important thing is that St. Birgitta says that everything that is done out of love is an honor.

Saint Birgitta
About Celtic Christianity 

It involved a holistic view of reality, everything is connected - even contradictions in life, good and bad, everything is a part of a great whole. Behind is God - the Creator. The characteristic Celtic knot is the symbol of this reality.
Its complex pattern of spirals chained together and intertwined ribbon expresses that everything - both in heaven and on earth - are linked. This includes humans as part of the complex whole. Man and nature, spirit and matter, creation and salvation - all are parts of the same great whole and is ultimately an expression of God Himself and His love.
There was also a strong natural theology, God's presence in nature. Nature is a revelation of God's creative will and the creation of action - they did not experience the pure nature experience but first and foremost a delight to meet the Creator of nature. The beauty of nature was as an expression of God's goodness and presence. This nature awareness embossed both the thinking and theology, worship, daily life, traditions and artistic expressions. Prayers, hymns and meditation texts are full of the most beautiful nature pictures and symbols. Saints legends contain examples of saints who spend time with the animals and birds as their siblings and equal fellow beings, several hundred years before Francis of Assisi in 1100-1200 's.

Celtic knot
It had a powerful experience of God's presence in everyday life and in all of life's events. God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary, the angels and the saints were not being who was in a distant heaven but present and active behavior in a person's everyday life.

Several of the great Celtic saints were mystics, where a concrete experience of God's presence, direct message from God, notice, sign, dreams and visions belong to their spiritual equipment. There was also a positive view of humanity, women are highly valued. They had great emphasis on love, forgiveness and empathy.
In the Celtic monasteries and churches were fire a symbol of God's presence.

Holy Trinity
An early nature poetry:

The Hermit & blackbird

I need to look at the sun to know when I will pray to God.
But the blackbird, which has its nest under the roof of my hut,
need not make any such calculations:
He sings the praises of God day long.

I need books to read to learn the hidden truths about God.
But the blackbird, who share my simple meals, do not need written texts:
He reads the love of God in every leaf and flower.

I need to ask for forgiveness to become clean and worthy before God.
But the blackbird who drink with me out of the brook,
shed no tears of penance and repentance:
He is as God made him, without a stain of sin.
The Blackbird
This coming from the same time the legend of King Arthur and the Knights around the Round Table.

Arthur led the defense of the country with the Celts against the Saxon invasion in the early 600s. The magician Merlin was King Arthur's advisor throughout life. They built the castle town of Camelot where the Knights gathered around the round table. The Knights sought happiness for the Holy Grail.
Famous knight is Sir Lancelot who was role model for kindness and bravery, however, moral weakness in love. Sir Tristan is best known for his romance with Isolde and Sir Mordred faithless and treacherous. Avalon is the fairy island and excalibur is King Arthur's sword that only he could pull out of the stone.
Mary Magdalene
Gothic Cathedrals

bildAll Mary’s , Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, feminine aspect of God is dedicated to the Gothic cathedrals. Originally called Gothic argotique which relates to a particular dialect extinct. According to the prominent alchemist Fulcanelli was argotique a language that was typical for anyone who wanted to communicate without being understood by outsiders.
In the 1200s was built over 20 Gothic cathedrals out of walls champions, mathematicians, architects and glaziers. A masterpiece of architecture of this is the Chartres Cathedral 80 km outside Paris, as Jesus of charity written in stone and glass.
Methods, drawings and geometric principles as in Solomon's temple in Jerusalem.
St. Mary's Church

In Sigtuna is one church of seven left and it is Maria Church, a Malar Gothic Dominican church from the 1300s dedicated to the Virgin Mary's honor. Sigtuna congregation has since 2013 an agreement with Assembly of Wales, Llantwit Major .

At Mary 's Church Manfred Björkquist grave, who founded the Sigtuna Foundation in 1917.
Manfred Björkquists grave
at St. Mary's Church

This is the Celtic Christianity's legacy to us but everything is plural, ie that more roads lead to the same goal. There is a message of love in all religions and we all live our lives under the same sun. It is our turn to live now building our faith on the basis of our hearts.

Exiting here with Irish Saint Brigidas words:
A true faith in a pure heart.



About Celtic Christianity and Saint Brigid:
from Harald Olsen's book "Celtic spirituality"
Bengt Wadensjö, article in SVD
"Book of Love" by Kathleen McGowan
Swedish Church's exchange with Ireland, Gothenburg diocese www.kultursamverkan.se (search for Ireland)

About  Saint Brigid's source in Husaby:
Bengt Wadensjö book "Echoes from Husaby"
Skara Pin Historical Society, www.skarastiftshistoriska.nu
Walking path, Tomas Jarvid priest in the Swedish Church in Husaby & Gotene
Bishop Guarantees Hostel  www.biskopsborgen.se/Boende.html
ARN films based on the books by Jan Guillou

About Ingegerd:
Sigtuna Museum, www.sigtunamuseum.se
From Sigtuna Museum's publication: "Ingegerd , Olof Skötkonungs Daughter" by Rune Edberg
The book "Mighty man's woman" by Catharina Ingelman- Sundberg
Orthodox Church in Sweden www.heligaanna.se

About St. Birgitta
Fresta Township, www.svenskakyrkan.se/fresta/birgittaprojektet
celebration of Saint Birgitta in Fresta:

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