Today Saint Catherine of Sweden is commemorated, intercessor against risky pregnancies

Like every March 24, today we celebrate Saint Catherine of Sweden, religious and mystic, daughter of the Patron Saint of Europe, Saint Bridget Birgersdotter (Saint Bridget of Sweden).

Catherine is also called ‘Saint Catherine of Vadstena’, alluding to the place where she lived and died.

Katarina, or Catalina, was a Brigidine nun, that is, she belonged to the religious Order founded by her mother, the ‘Order of the Most Holy Savior’, whose members are commonly known as ‘Brigidines’ in honor of their founder. She is venerated as the patron saint of virgins, even when she was married, and expectant mothers ask for her intercession in the face of the danger of miscarriage.

Like father Like Son

Catherine Ulfsdotter was born in Vadstena, a city in the province of Östergötland, Sweden. She was the fourth daughter of Santa Brígida. It has not been possible to establish the exact date of her birth, but it is believed that it was between 1331 and 1332. It is true that she belonged to a noble and wealthy family, but in it she learned detachment and generosity. Saint Bridget, her mother, had instilled Christian values ​​in all of her children. She herself gave her best example when at the death of her husband she renounced her possessions. On her side, Catalina inherited the spirit of leadership, dedication and love of prayer. She, since she was little, knew how to show a warm simplicity and affability that made her always close to those around her; she had learned from Brígida to discover the best thing you can have in this life: God.

Therefore, he spent several hours of the day dedicated to the affable dealings with the Lord. She liked the meditation on the passion and death of Christ, the penitential psalms and the Office of the Virgin Mary. She learned many of these spiritual exercises as a child, since she was entrusted from the age of 7 to the nuns of the Risberg convent for her education.

Respectful and obedient daughter

At the age of 13, her father decided to engage her in marriage. The chosen one was a nobleman of Germanic origin, Eggart von Kürnen. She did not agree to the arrangement, but she decided to obey her father. After their marriage, Catherine managed to persuade her husband – a man of deep faith – to make a vow of chastity together, which they would zealously fulfill for the rest of her lives. In 1349, after the death of her father, Catherine reached an agreement with her husband to be free of her and to go with her mother to Rome on pilgrimage, and visit the tombs of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

While still on the way, Catherine received the news that Eggart, her husband, had passed away. So she decided not to marry again and to stay with her mother in Rome. There she, Catalina, would begin a new life, fervently imitating Brigida in her ascetic life and belonging to God.


As a widow, Catalina did not stop visiting the poor and sick of the city, wherever they were; whether on the streets, in their homes or in hospices. In addition to caring for them spiritually and materially, she helped with the housework.

In 1372, Catherine, her mother, and her brother set out on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The following year, during the return trip, Brígida died in Rome. A year later, her body would return to Sweden to be buried in Vadstena, in the convent of her foundation.

Fulfiller of God’s work

Catalina was admitted to the convent of Vadstena, of which she would be abbess until 1375, the year in which she would travel to Rome to promote the canonization of Brigid. Despite not obtaining results, she achieved the ratification of the rules of the Order that her mother founded, the Order of the Most Holy Savior of Saint Bridget.

After five years in Rome, Catherine returned to her homeland and the bishop entrusted her with the general government of the young religious order. A short time later she became ill and died on March 24, 1381. In 1484, Innocent VIII granted authorization for her veneration.

Patronage and veneration

Saint Catherine of Sweden is considered the patron saint of virgins. This could generate some confusion considering that she was married for almost 20 years; however, there is a beautiful explanation that must be understood in the light of the conditions of her time. Catalina wanted to consecrate her virginity to the Lord from a very young age and that is how she always remained. This was possible, in large part, thanks to her husband, who shared with her, in an unusual way, the desire to consecrate himself to God as a virgin.

On the other hand, it may also attract attention that expectant mothers ask for the intercession of the saint in the face of the danger of a spontaneous abortion since Catalina never had children. The explanation of why she is an intercessor in such difficult moments, which many women go through, lies in the fact that Catalina had to accompany more than one mother in her pain who had lost her son in the womb of her.

Do you want to know more about Saint Catherine of Sweden? We recommend this article from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

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