American-Trained Nurse Canonized

By Dr. Richard Watson

As of 5 June 2016, Elizabeth Hesselblad is now a canonized Saint in the Roman Catholic Church.  Born in Sweden, she immigrated to the United States to find better work in order to support her large family back home. Here, she completed her training as a nurse at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City.

Saint Elizabeth, while serving as a home-care nurse in New York, was deeply touched by the steadfast devotion of many of her indigent patients. Born a Lutheran, she found herself strongly attracted to their Catholic Faith.  She went on, not only to convert to Catholicism, but ultimately to become a nun. She then moved to Rome, where her hope was to revive the Swedish order of Bridgettine nuns and to bring about a resurgence of the Roman Catholic faith in her native Sweden. As a nun, Mother Maria Elizabeth continued her commitment to nursing.  During World War II, while directing her order from Rome, she saved many Jews from the Nazis.

Maria Elisabeth Hesselblad (1870-1957) has been identified as Sweden’s saint – 625 years after St. Bridget.

From the very beginning of her Foundation, she was particularly attentive to the formation of her spiritual daughters, for whom she was both a mother and a guide. She implored them to live in close union with God, to have a fervent desire to be conformed to our Divine Savior, to possess a great love for the Church and the Roman Pontiff, and to pray constantly that there be only one flock and one shepherd, adding, “This is the prime goal of our vocation.”

Throughout her life she remained faithful to what she had written in 1904: “Dear Lord, I do not ask to see the path. In darkness, in anguish and in fear, I will hang on tightly to your hand and I will close my eyes, so that you know how much trust I place in you, Spouse of my soul.”

Contemplating the infinite love of the Son of God, who sacrificed Himself for our salvation, she fed the flame of love in her heart, as manifested by the goodness of her works. Repeatedly to her daughters she said, “We must nourish a great love for God and our neighbors; a strong love, an ardent love, a love that burns away imperfections, a love that gently bears an act of impatience, or a bitter word, a love that lets an inadvertence or act of neglect pass without comment, a love that lends itself readily to an act of charity.”

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How Sweden is getting its first saint in over 600years:

Elizabeth Hessellad – Five fast facts you need to know:

The  Bridgettine Sisters: