The Vadstena Pilgrim Centre

The Vadstena Pilgrim Centre is a meeting and resting place away from everyday life. It is situated in a unique environment in the monastic area surrounding Vadstena Abbey, close to nature and convenient for a pilgrimage on the Monastic Footpath of Östergötland. The Centre is also close to the inner landscapes and to a purification of the soul. The environment bears the stamp of its spiritual heritage, with roots deep in the monastic life of the Middle Ages.
The Pilgrim Centre provides an open, contemporary atmosphere, where visitors become part of a community. The Centre is run by the Diocese of Linköping (Church of Sweden) but has an ecumenical focus. We are united by our spiritual needs and our spiritual search.
The Pilgrim Centre aims to be an environment where people can develop a deeper relationship with God, with others and with themselves. The Pilgrim Centre wants to express clearly our church's identity as an itinerant church and a pilgrim church.
At the Pilgrim Centre, you can take part in our prayer life, rest, have a cup of something warm in our book café, read something in the library, have a conversation or take a guided walk. You can also talk privately with one of our clerical staff.
Our Pilgrim Shop has many books and practical items for internal and external pilgrimages.
We offer dormitory-style accommodation and the opportunity to cook in our communal kitchen.
The Pilgrim Centre also offers a large number of courses, walking tours and retreats with a pilgrim theme. Or special programmes can be customised for groups.
The Café and the Pilgrim Shop are open year-round on weekdays, 8 AM to 4 PM. More information is available at www.pilgrimscentrum.se, and although information is only available in Swedish as yet, you can see pictures of our facilities on the website. Or you can find out more by calling us on +46 (0) 143 105 71 or e-mail pilgrimscentrum@svenskakyrkan.se

Retreats at Mariagården                                                                                                          
Mariagården is part of the original Birgittine convent in Vadstena and it is owned by the Birgittine Order. It was long a convent for the Daughters of Mary, who now have their own Convent of the Sacred Heart at Omberg. The Pilgrim Centre now has the use of Mariagården. Together with the Birgittine sisters, we now offer facilities dedicated to retreat and prayer.
A ‘retreat’ involves withdrawing from the world for a while. Having time to think and rest, and to listen inwards and upwards, rather than outwards. Silence is an important part of the retreat. Perhaps we will discover the good thoughts we carry with us, perhaps we will have the peace of mind to think clearly about matters that are important to us. Perhaps we will experience the invitation of Jesus: “Come with me...and get some rest” (Mark 6). - But there is also a calling in the retreat, as Jesus called his disciples to walk with him and then go out. As we return to our everyday journey, we take with us the words of Jesus: “And surely I am with you...” (Matthew 28). We will take a short walk of about an hour and a half around Mariagården each day with those who wish to come along. If you prefer to walk by yourself there are several paths to choose from. Each retreat has a theme that is reflected in the guided meditations.
Already at this stage we can experience God's presence in different ways. Rest, prayer, thoughts, meals, silence and perhaps activity are the building blocks of the retreat. Mass is celebrated daily. We also offer the opportunity for private talks on any topic, as well as the opportunity for confession.
Retreats start late in the afternoon of the first day and end in the afternoon of the fourth day. Unfortunately, Mariagården is not adapted for use by the disabled.
                              
Mass and prayers
You are welcome to take part in prayers at the canonical hours in the Abbey, and in Mariagården's chapel. The usual schedule is as follows:
 
Monday to Friday
8 AM       Pilgrim mass in the Abbey
9 AM       Lauds (morning prayer) in the Abbey
               Bible discussion at the Pilgrim Centre
Noon       Sext (midday prayer) in the Abbey
3 PM       Vespers (afternoon prayer)
7:30 PM  Compline (prayer at the end of the   day) with the Birgittine sisters at Pax Mariae
 
Thursday
6 PM        Taizé mass in Mariagården's chapel
 
Friday
6 PM        Mass in the Abbey
 
Saturday
8 AM       Pilgrim mass in Mariagården's chapel
9 AM       Lauds in Mariagården's chapel
Noon       Sext in Mariagården's chapel
3 PM       Vespers in Mariagården's chapel
7:30 PM  Compline with the Birgittine sisters at Pax Mariæ
 
Sunday
10 AM     Mass at Pax Mariae
11 AM     Mass in the Abbey
7:30 PM  Compline with the Birgittine sisters at Pax Mariæ 

A Pilgrim
Who is a pilgrim? Everyone. For some, being a pilgrim involves walking on foot, perhaps long distances. For others, it is more a way of thinking, believing and living. We are constantly on our way, in an outward and an inward sense, constantly changing and transforming. Our view of ourselves and others, of the world, and not least of God, is changing, perhaps broadening. We have been given life – this is the starting point – and we walk on our journey – this is our life. And we have a goal – this is Paradise, joy, the Kingdom of God. The journey comes to us as gifts from God and from other people, and we, ourselves, are part of other people's lives.
 
We are constantly on a pilgrimage, but sometimes we also take a walk, make a journey and widen our views to learn what there is to discover. Perhaps we have a goal for this journey, such as Vadstena. This goal is a reminder that the final goal exists, that it is possible to reach and open to everyone.

Key words
– words for our longing
 
Freedom
Simplicity
Silence
Don´t worry
Slowness
Spirituality
Sharing
 
How do you feel about these words?

Words for pilgrims
– words for your daily rhythm
 
Discovery– I am someone and I want something
Preparations – I can contribute
Departure – I take my first step
Walking – With joy, with an effort of will or as a necessity
The path – Others are my path, and I am the path of others – we walk with Jesus
The goal – Where am I headed?
New discoveries– I want something more
What does my day look like?

The Abbey and the Vadstena Convent
The Abbey, also known as the Blue Church, still stands today, having been built according to measures and instructions that Birgitta Birgersdotter, or Saint Bridget, received from Christ himself. The church was inaugurated in 1430, almost 60 years after Saint Bridget's “Heavenly Birthday”. People have made pilgrimages to this place since the Middle Ages. The Abbey is an important goal for pilgrims in Europe. Vadstena and the Abbey offer the modern pilgrim a symbolic goal for the journey of life for all mankind. In spring, the pilgrim is welcomed by thousands of spring snowflakes, Leucojum vernum, in the monks’ orchard. Birgitta was inspired by the austere Cistercian architecture of the Alvastra Abbey, and she gave instructions for the convents and abbeys of her own order to be built with clean lines, without any unnecessary embellishments. The abbey should be “of plain fashion, humble and strong”. Construction of the Convent started in 1370 and it was taken into use in 1384. At that time, construction of the Abbey had not yet started. Throughout the entire construction period, mass and daily prayers were conducted in a small wooden chapel between the colonnades. There is a shrine in the Abbey that holds what is left of the monastery's collection of relics, the relics of Saint Bridget. Each year, the Birgittine memorial days, the “Heavenly Birthday” on 23 July, and the canonization on 7 October, are celebrated through ecumenical services. Read more about this at www. birgittaskloster.se (Swe, Eng, Ger and Dutch) and at www. svenskakyrkan.se/vadstena (Swedish only). According to instructions, the monastery was to have 60 nuns and 13 priest-monks, as well as 4 deacons and 8 lay brothers. The total number was meant to correspond to the 13 apostles and the 72 disciples. During the Reformation, Vadstena Abbey was finally closed in 1595, when the last remaining sisters were banished.
The Abbey, with its medieval altarpieces and sculptures, still stands, however. The present Vadstena Convent, S:ta Birgittas kloster Pax Mariæ, was founded in 1935 and currently has eight nuns. The Abbey has now been the Church of Sweden's parish church in Vadstena for as long as it once was a Catholic church. The Catholic Church of Vadstena celebrates mass at the church of the present Birgittine Convent.

Birgitta Birgersdotter – Saint Bridget
1302 or 1303 Birgitta is born in Uppland as the daughter of the Law-speaker, Birger Persson, and Ingeborg Bengtsdotter.
1314 Her mother dies.
1315 or 1316 Birgitta is married to the Lawspeaker to be, Ulf Gudmarsson, at Ulvåsa in Östergötland. Over the years, she has eight children, four girls and four boys.
1339 Birgitta and Ulf make a pilgrimage to Nidaros in Norway.
1340-1343 Birgitta and Ulf make a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
1344 Ulf dies at Alvastra.
1345 Birgitta has a revelation, in which Christ urges her to found a monastery.
1346 King Magnus Eriksson bequeaths the royal demesne of Vadstena for a future monastery.
1349 Birgitta travels to Rome in order to spend the year of jubilee 1350 there.
1353 Birgitta moves into Piazza Farnese 96, a house which still stands and which belongs to a branch of the Birgittine Order.
1370 The Order of the Most Holy Saviour, also known as the Birgittine Order, is approved by Pope Urban V.
1372 Birgitta makes her last pilgrimage, to Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
1373 Birgitta dies in Rome on 23 July – her Heavenly Birthday.
1374 Her body is taken to the monastery of Vadstena, where construction started in 1369.
 
1378 The Order is revised and given its final form.
 
1391 Bridget is canonized in Rome on 7 October, and this decision is confirmed by the Council of Constance in 1415.
 
1999 Birgitta is named by Pope John Paul II as one of Europe's patron saints.

Vadstena Pilgrim Centre
Klostergatan 7 (next to the Abbey)
SE 592 30 Vadstena
Sweden
Telephone: +46 (0) 143 105 71

Find our way

From Motala Central - bus 612 and 613
(approx 20 min)

From Mjölby Resecentrum - train or bus 661
(approx 20 min)

From Stockholm - bus
blaklintsbuss.se
(approx 4 hour)