Birgitta of Sweden and the Voice of Prophecy

July 2001
6 black and white illustrations
282 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in Medieval Mysticism
ISBN: 9780851158211
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press

Birgitta of Sweden and the Voice of Prophecy

Claire L. Sahlin

Birgitta's religious authority considered, with regard to her prophetic mission and her authenticity as a medium of divine revelation in 14c Europe.
This book examines the religious authority of St Birgitta of Sweden, the charismatic moral reformer and controversial female visionary of the fourteenth century, emphasising both representations of her prophetic mission and debates about her authenticity as a medium of divine revelation. It illuminates Birgitta's view of herself as a prophet of moral reform by explaining how her Revelations depict her religious mission and place in salvation history, going on to reconstruct interactions between Birgitta and her contemporaries, including the significance of her prophetic authority vis-a-vis the priestly authority of her male clerical associates. Finally, it analyses arguments about women's suitability for mediating the divine word in posthumous attacks and defences of her claims to prophesy.
Through a close examination of Birgitta's lengthy Revelations, canonization documents, and texts by her posthumous defenders and detractors, this study demonstrates that members of her audience perceived her to be both a vibrant source of supernatural power and a dangerous transgressor of conventional boundaries. Informed by sociological studies of prophetic authority, it contributes to our knowledge of Birgitta herself as well as to our understanding of the dynamics of women's spiritual authority.

Professor CLAIRE SAHLIN teaches at Texas Woman's University.

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Sahlin undertakes with verve and scholarship the task of placing Birgitta's remarkable career in its context, identifying her supporters and critics and comparing her and her message with that of othr female visionaries... A fine contribution to the growing literature on Birgitta and the Brigittine Order. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW [Jeremy Catto]

Astute analysis of one of the great prophetic voices of the middle ages... an important contribution to our understanding of medieval mysticism. SCANDINAVIAN STUDIES [US]

Erudite and extremely readable account of Birgitta's prophecies and their reception, during Birgitta's lifetime and posthumously. MYSTICS QUARTERLY

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