The door opened
"The door opened and from the safety of the mighty monastery church I stepped out to the hear the sound of singing birds. The sunlight struck my eyes and a warm scent of flowers appeared. -"I'll take the way past the monastery lilies", I thought for myself. The coffee could wait a little longer. A sea of white flowers, almost as if the nature wants to thank us for holding out every year. Then a short look at the bell tower before my walk continued down the pedestrian street. Here's another pace, a calmer pace. The sunbeams hits the houses and a young couple is hugging each other. A happy man walking his dog is waving at me and a little further down at the square, I hear music and laughter coming from one of the windows. I smile when I open the door to the flower shop. -"It's a big day" I reveal to the woman behind the counter, she smiles and stretches me the bouquet. Now it's all done. In the pocket is the little box. Out on the street I stop, close my eyes and take a deep breath. I hear music again, it's from the harbor park, it's in my direction. I follow the music and with the towers of the castle stretching against the sky, I see her, she waves at me and I feel happy. It's here I want to be ... "
/words by M. Liljeqvist
I’m Vadstena and I’ve been that since the Middle Ages. I've had kings here, Gustav Vasa was one of them. He was married here at the castle. But mostly there have been monks and nuns. The nuns are still here today, just like the castle and monastery church and all the alleys that lead out to my two town squares. There the people have met for centuries. People have enjoyed me. They have taken the boat, some have walked by foot and some have come by rail. It’s nearly used any longer, except in the summer when tourists can experience the railbus and sometimes I have seen the steam locomotive take a trip. The inhabitants usually wave to me. They swim, walk with their dogs and speak with each other by the seafront. They like to gather in the harbor park on blankets with friends, food and drinks. I feel good when you're comfortable here. I want you to know that.
Monastery area - with several layers of history
In 1346 King Magnus Eriksson and Queen Blanka testified Vadstena farm and their royal palace to a monastery foundation to build a royal tomb church with its monasteries. The donation included a larger area at Vättern, with income from several farms where the royal palace formed the starting point.
At the head of the project, Birgitta Birgersdotter former court lady of Queen Blanka. On a trip to Santiago de Compostela in 1341, she had received a first revelation where God gave her the task of establishing a new convent in Vadstena. In 1370 she received the monastery rule approved by the pope, three years later she died in Rome. Through the great commitment of both the kingdoms and the church, Birgitta's vision became reality and around the old royal palace, the new monastery area grew up.
The new monastery and monastery church was built according to Holy Birgitta's instructions and was opened in 1384 and 1430 and Vadstena became the mother's monastery for the “Order of the Savior” or “Birgittinorden”. In 1391 she was declared sacred and was named Saint Birgitta.
At the same time as Gustav Vasa's reform in 1527, all the monasteries in Sweden were closed, Vadstena Monastery remained the longest and was active until 1595.
The monastery buildings were left empty for more than 50 years before they were used in a variety of ways. The ancient nunnery was built in the 17th century into a home for war invalids and their families. In the 1840s one of the buildings was used as a general hospital. Only when the hospital business moves out and the building is being renovated in the 1950s, it is discovered that the building is the old royal palace.
Looking up in Klosterkyrkan, you can see these amazing starvals. Lime paintings in the ceiling are in the form of stylized clover leaves and other plant-like ornaments. As a fun detail, there's a little man painted somewhere among all the patterns. See if you can find him!