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Women's role is central to the family and the Church, Pope says

Catholic World News - October 27, 2010

At his weekly public audience on October 27, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about St. Bridget of Sweden (1303- 1373), continuing his series on the role of women in the Church.

St. Bridget’s life could be divided into two parts, the Holy Father observed. As a young woman she became a loving wife and mother to 8 children. Later, after her husband’s death, with her children grown, she entered monastic life and became widely known as a mystic, theologian, adviser to kings and bishops, and founder of the Bridgetine order. Pope Benedict remarked that St. Bridget’s life demonstrates the importance of women in the Church. As a mother she was “the spiritual center of the family,” as so many women are. Her leadership role in the Church later in life, the Pope observed, shows that “in the great Christian tradition, the dignity of women and their place in the Church is recognized.” He added that “while not overlapping that of the ordained priesthood, they are equally important for the spiritual growth of the community.”

St. Bridget was canonized by Pope Boniface IX in 1391, just 18 years after her death, in recognition of the great devotion to her throughout Europe. Pope Benedict recalled that when Pope John Paul II declared her a co-patron of Europe, he “expressed the hope that St. Bridget-- who lived in the 14th century when Western Christianity had still not been wounded by division-- may intercede effectively with God to obtain the longed-for grace of full unity among all Christians, ... and to ensure that Europe may always nourish itself from its Christian roots.”

At the close of his audience the Pope offered a special greeting to sisters of the Bridgetine order, who were coincidentally in Rome for their general chapter.

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