Ostergotlands Lan Sweden
|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
Description: The abbey was founded in 1346 by Saint Bridget with the assistance of King Magnus IV of Sweden and his Queen Blanche of Namur, who made a will donating ten farms, including that of Vadstena in Dal Hundred, Östergötland, to the abbey founded by Bridget.
The daughter of Saint Bridget, Saint Catherine, on arriving there in 1374 with the relics of her mother, found only a few novices under an Augustinian superior. They chose St. Catherine as their abbess. She died in 1381, and it was not until 1384 that the abbey was blessed by the Bishop of Linköping. The first recognized abbess was Ingegerd Knutsdotter, grandchild of Saint Bridget. The canonization of St. Bridget in 1391 and her translation in 1394 added greatly to the fame and riches of her abbey.
In 1400 Duke Eric of Pomerania was invested at Vadstena by his grandaunt, Queen Margaret, as King of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The grave of his queen Philippa and that of Catherine, queen consort of King Carl II of Sweden, are located here.
Bridgetine literature consisted mostly of translations into Swedish of portions of the Bible or of the legends of the saints. Such writings as are extant have been published for the most part by the Svenska fornskriftsällskapet (Old Swedish Texts Society) of Stockholm.
Of these authors, the best known belonging to Vadstena are perhaps Margareta Clausdotter, (abbess 1473, died 1486), author of a work on the family of St. Bridget (printed in "Scriptores Rerum Svecicarum", III, I, 207-16), and Nicolaus Ragvaldi, monk and general confessor (1476-1514), who composed several works.
The abbey was a double convent with both a male section of 25 monks and a female section of 60 nuns. The monks was organised under a male general confessor and the nuns under a prioress, while the abbey as a whole was organised under an abbess, who was elected by both the monks and the nuns.
The abbey was greatly favored by the royal house and nobility and became the spiritual center of the country as well as the greatest landowner in Sweden. The abbey was known to manage a hospital and retirement home, which was known from 1401. Early on, Vadstena Abbey supported Beghards and Beguines, often aristocratic women, who was very ill reputed by the church. In 1412, the abbey was ordered to expel them, but they were in fact not expelled from the abbey until 1506. In 1436, the rebel Jösse Eriksson sought asylum in the abbey, but was forced out and arrested all the same. In 1419, the abbey was subjected to an investigation were the abbess as well as the nuns was accused of having accepted personal gifts and entertained male guests at unacceptable hours
Vadstena Abbey also had international fame as the mother abbey of all the convents of the bridgettine order, such as the convents of Reval, Nådendal, Bergen and Danzig. It kept in contact with other bridgettine convents, performed inspections of them and sent both nuns and monks to them when they were lacking in members. In 1406, for example, an English delegation arrived asking for members in order to establish a bridgettine convent in England, and in 1415, four nuns, three female novices, one monk and one priest left the abbey under great celebrations for England at the foundation of Syon Monastery.Post-dissolution
After Karin Johansdotter left the former abbey in 1605, the buildings was left empty for almost forty years. There were plans to found a university in them, but nothing came of the plans. In 1641, a Krigshus (War Mans House) was founded for retired and invalid soldiers and their familys. The retirement home was housed in the former nun's wing for one hundred and forty years. It also provided a school for the soldiers children. The retirement home was closed in 1783.
In 1795, a hospital for venereal diseases was established in both the male and female section of the former abbey. From the 1840s, it also received patients with other illnesses and became a public hospital. The hospital was moved to modern facilities in 1909. The nuns section of the abbey was used as a prison in 1810-1825, and after that as a part of the Vadstena Insane Asylum until 1951.
In 1935, the nuns of the Bridgettine order returned to Vadstena under Elisabeth Hesselblad and established a new convent in Vadstena, outside of the area of the former abbey.
The abbey church is still standing; it contains a few memorials of St. Bridget.