How Lady Bridget returned from the king of Sweden and how her son died.
And so, when Lady Bridget returned from the king of Sweden to the monastery of Alvastra, she found that a son of hers - who, when she left, had long been infirm - was now in extremis. And she wept much over his long infirmity and reckoned that it was happening because of the sins of his parents. Then the devil appeared to her and said: ”Why, woman, with all this water of tears, are you weakening your sight and laboring in vain? Could water ascend to heaven?” In the same hour, Christ appeared to his bride in his human form and said: ”This boy's infirmity has not been caused by constellations of stars - as the foolish say - nor by his sins. He has become infirm because of his physical condition and so that his crown will be greater.
Therefore, if he has hitherto been called by his own name, Benedict, Ulf's son, from now on he shall be called the son of tears and prayers; and I shall put an end to his distress. In fact, on the fifth day afterward, there was heard a most sweet singing, as it were, of birds between the boy's bed and the wall; and, behold, then the boy's soul went forth; and the Holy Spirit said to that same Lady Bridget: ”Behold what tears accomplish! Now the son of waters has passed over to his rest. Therefore the devil hates the tears of good people, which proceed from divine charity.”
About a brother who lay in his infirmity for three years and more.
In the said monastery of Alvastra, a certain lay brother of holy life was infirm for three years and more. At Christ's command, his bride visited the brother and said to him: ”Repent with greater attention because there is something hidden in your heart. As long as you keep it hidden, you will not be able to die.” When he answered that he had nothing that had not been disclosed in penance, she said: ”Ask with what intention you entered the monastery and with what intention you have lived up to now.” Then he dissolved in tears and said: ”Blessed be God who has sent you to me. Now that you have spoken, I want to tell the truth; for I do have something hidden that I never dared to betray because, as often as I repented, my tongue was always, as it were, tied and indeed excessive shame invaded me so that I did not open the matter.
Therefore, as often as I made my confession, I invented for myself a new conclusion to my words, saying at the end: 'I declare to God and to all God's saints that I am culpable of all the crimes that I have told to you, Father, and of all those that I have not told.' I believed that through this conclusion, all was forgiven. But now, if it should please God, I would gladly tell the whole world.” And when a confessor had been called, he fully explained everything with tears; and he did not survive long afterward.
About a temptation to gluttony with which Lady Bridget was tempted.
Now at one time, Lady Bridget was so gravely tempted with gluttony that for hunger, she could scarcely think of anything else. Finally, in spirit, she saw an Ethiopian holding in his hand, as it were, a morsel of bread and a certain very handsome youth holding a gilded vessel. And the youth said: ”Why do you solicit that woman who has been given over into my custody?” The Ethiopian responded: ”Because she glories in an abstinence that she has not had; for she does not cease to fill her belly until it is full of delicate dung. I therefore hold forth my morsel that grosser things may, for her, become sweet.”
The youth responded: ”You know quite well that she does not have an immaterial nature as we do but, rather, a sack made of earth. Since earth is slippery and restless, she needs continual re-creation.” The Ethiopian said: ”Your Christ fasted, eating nothing; and the prophets ate bread and drank water in moderation. Therefore they merited lofty things.
And how will that woman merit when she always feels a satiety?” The youth responded: ”Is Christ not yours too as well as ours?” To which the other said: ”By no means at all! For I will never humble myself to him but will rather act in opposition to him because I shall not return to his glory!” The youth responded: ”Our Christ taught us to fast, not so that the body would be weakened beyond measure, but so that it would be humbled and not grow insolent in opposition to its soul. Our Christ does not ask for things impossible to nature but for moderation; he does not ask the quality or the quantity of what one eats but, rather, the quality of the eater's intention and charity.”
To which the Ethiopian said: ”It is just that what that woman did not experience in youth, she should feel in old age.” In rebuttal, the youth said: ”The praiseworthy thing is abstinence from sin. There is no obstacle to heaven in purple dye or in delicate flesh when these things are possessed together with the love of God. Sometimes the customs of one's upbringing must be maintained well, with thanksgiving, lest the flesh be too seriously weakened.” After this, at that same hour, the Virgin Mary appeared to her - wearing a crown - and said to the Ethiopian: ”Be silent, you negotiator; look askance, because she has been assigned to me!” And the Ethiopian spoke: ”If I cannot do anything else,” he said, ”I will cast a bramble of the Christ's-thorn plant onto the hem of her garments.” To which the Virgin said: ”I will help her. And as often as you cast it on, it shall be cast back into your face; and her crown will be doubled.” Not long after this vision, the whole temptation to gluttony was taken away.
How she was tempted at prayer.
During her prayers, the bride of Christ was sometimes tempted even with unclean thoughts. Blessed Mary appeared to her and said: ”The devil is like an envious spy, seeking to accuse and impede the good. Therefore try and pray as long as you are being tempted because your desire and good effort will count for you as prayer; and if you cannot cast out of your mind the sordid matters that come to it, those efforts will count for you as merit provided that you not consent and as these things are against your will.”