As debates over the role of women in the Catholic Church continue, St. Bridget of Sweden, as Pope Benedict XVI said, is “one of those women who, despite having lived several centuries ago, still has much to teach the Church and the world.”

St. Bridget, whose feast day is July 23, came from Uppland, Sweden. She obeyed the wishes of her pious parents, who were known for helping people, and married a Swedish prince at 14. They had a happy marriage and raised eight children, including the virgin St. Catherine of Sweden.

St. Bridget and her husband followed her parent’s example of caring for people in need, and it is said that St. Bridget arranged to have a hospital built on their estate that was open to all.

After her husband died, St. Bridget gave up her rights as princess and pursued a life of prayer, penance and charitable works. She wrote about her mystical graces and founded the Order of the Most Holy Savior, or Brigittines, for both men and women.

St. Bridget was not afraid to take on the church. In 1350, during a time when the popes were living in Avignon, France, St. Bridget began a campaign to move the papacy back to Rome. St. Bridget saw her role as “God’s chosen instrument to lay the axe to the fruit of many an unfruitful tree.”

Her efforts bore fruit six years after her death when Pope Gregory XI came back to the Eternal City.

According to Epic Pew, much is known about St. Bridget because the forefathers of the church were struck by her holiness. Right before the Great Year of Jubilee in 2000, St. Pope John Paul II named St. Bridget the co-patroness of Europe. She shares the patronage with St. Catherine of Siena and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

Many are also intrigued with Jesus’ divine revelations to St. Bridget.

At the age of seven she saw an image of a wounded Christ. These visions increased after the death of her husband and they were never in the same style nor did they have the same message. Standing in front of a crucifix inside the Church of St. Paul while on a trip to Rome, she had a vision of Christ. In this divine revelation, Jesus asked her to pray 15 specific prayers per day for a year in honor of the 5,840 wounds he received during this Passion. During one of the visions, she asked him who had hurt him. He replied, “Those who despise me and refuse my love for them.”