- Maria Elizabetta Hesselblad
Emigrated to New York at age 18 to seek work to support her family back in Sweden. Studied nursing at Manhattan’s Roosevelt Hospital where she worked as a nurse from 1888; did home care for the sick and aged. Her work took her into the large Catholic population of New York; her interest in the Church grew, and she came to see it as the place closest to Christ. She converted to Catholicism, received conditional baptism on 15 August 1902 by the Jesuit priest Giovani Hagen at Washington.
Pilgrim to Rome, Italy in late 1902, receiving Confirmation there. She returned briefly to New York, but then sailed back to Rome to start a religious life. Settled at the Carmelite House of Saint Bridget of Sweden on 25 March 1904. In 1906 she got permission from Pope Pius X to take the habit of the Brigittines (Order of the Most Holy Saviour of Saint Bridget).
She worked to restore the Order in Sweden and Italy, especially in Rome. She returned to her homeland in 1923, ministered to the poor, and tried to revitalize the Brigittine movement there. Received control of Rome‘s Brigittine house and church in 1931. Established Brigittine foundations in India in 1937. Saved Jews and others persecuted by the Nazis by giving them refuge in Rome; in 2004 she was recognized by Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous Among the Nations for this work.
In an instant the love of God was poured over me. I understood that I could respond to that love only through sacrifice and a love prepared to suffer for His glory and for the Church. Without hesitation I offered Him my life, and my will to follow Him on the Way of the Cross. – Blessed Maria, reflecting on her baptism into Catholicism
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. – Blessed Maria
The Lord has called us from different nations, but we must be united with one heart and one soul. In the divine Heart of Jesus we will always meet one another and there we seek our strength to face the difficulties of life. May we be strengthened to practice the beautiful virtues of charity, humility and patience. Then our religious life will be the antechamber to Heaven. – Blessed Maria
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. – Blessed Maria
- “Blessed Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad“. CatholicSaints.Info. 27 May 2009. Web. 4 July 2015. <>