Saint Maria Elisabetta Hesselblad, precursor of ecumenical dialogue
JERUSALEM – On Sunday, June 19, 2016, His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch Emeritus, celebrated a Thanksgiving Mass for the canonization of Mother Maria Elisabetta Hesselblad in the Basilica of Gethsemane. St. Elisabetta, foundress of the Order of the Most Holy Saviour of St. Bridget was canonized in Rome on June 5.
Patriarch Sabbah at the beginning of Mass said: “We celebrate (…) a woman from Sweden , a model of Christian life for all the churches of the world, and for each of us gathered here today, to give thanks to God and implore his intercession. ” Born in 1870 in a Swedish Lutheran family, Mother Maria Elisabetta Hesselblad converted to Catholicism and later refounded the Order of Most Holy Savior of Saint Bridget, bringing particular attention to Christian Unity and Ecumenical Dialogue. She died in Rome in 1957.
Mother Maria Elisabetta was canonized by Pope Francis on June 5, along with Father Stanislaus of Jesus Mary, Polish preacher and mystic of the seventeenth century, and founder of the Institute of the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. On this occasion, the Pope recalled “the union of the two saints to the power of his resurrection (which) occurred in them.”
Mother Maria Elisabetta was canonized by Pope Francis on June 5, along with Saint Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary Papczyński, a Polish preacher and mystic of the seventeenth century, and founder of the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. On this occasion, the Pope recalled “the union of the two saints to the power of His resurrection, manifested in them.”
A life entirely devoted to the will of God
Mother Elisabetta Hesselblad was beatifed by Saint John Paul II on April 9 of the Jubilee year 2000 and was recognized Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, for hiding Jews in her convent in Rome during the second world war.
In his homily, Patriarch Sabbah retraced the life of the Saint, from her childhood in a Swedish Lutheran family until her conversion to Catholicism in 1902. The life of Mother Maria Elisabetta was entrusted entirely to the will of God: “her holiness was in total surrender to the will of God in an absolute way despite suffering and sickness. She wrote to the priest who baptized her: I always wanted to do the will of God. She lived her life in God’s presence, before the Blessed Sacrament, or listening to his voice and his words. ”
Patriarch Sabbah called the faithful and the Bridgettine Sisters to follow the exemplary life of Mother Maria Elisabetta: “Our Holy Land needs Christians who listen to the will of God, who know how to meet him through his Word, and in the Blessed Sacrament, to know who we are and what our mission is on this earth (…) Let us ask Saint Maria Elisabetta Hesselblad to bless her children among us, the Bridgettine Sisters. Let us ask her to teach us how to live like her, to listen to the voice of God, and recognize His permanent presence to create unity within ourselves, to live with God with all His children. ”
Present during the Mass celebration were the Bridgettine Sisters in Jerusalem and Bethlehem; the Consul General of Sweden in Jerusalem, Ann Sofie Nelsson; Philippine Ambassador Neal Imperial; Consul General of the Philippines, Pamela Durian-Bailon; and Stella Rosa Fazio, human rights expert represented the Italian Consul General. Priests and members of different religious communities with the faithful shared in the joy of the Bridgettine Sisters.
A Thanksgiving Mass will also be celebrated in the Church of St. Catherine in Bethlehem on July 3.
Photos : ©LPJ / Thomas Charrière