The soon-to-be SAINT Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad started out life as a Lutheran. To send money back to her family, she emigrated to the US at 16 and became a nursing student in New York. She got through and became a skilled nurse, despite a “prank” which left her locked into the hospital morgue all night on Halloween. (Which turned out to be a good thing… because a dead guy in the morgue woke up and started knocking on the wall because he needed help! AAAAAGH! She had nerves of steel!) She converted to Catholicism in the US, largely due to the witness of her patients’ faith.
After she became Catholic, she ended up becoming very ill. She went on pilgrimage to Rome and started to feel the call to become a sister. She tried out life with the Carmelites, but felt a calling to the Brigittines, a mostly-defunct order originally founded by St. Bridget of Sweden (a little visionary) and her daughter St. Catherine of Sweden (obviously the organizer). The group had originally been known for contemplation and for its close association with male religious (partly in imitation of the original St. Brigit of Kildare’s order, and partly for practical reasons).
Hesselblad felt that there ought to be a return to the original rule, including the unique habit which was based on St. Bridget’s visions. She was eventually given permission to try this out, but essentially had to go it alone for many years before other people joined her version of the order. Today it is fairly successful in Italy and in Sweden, as well as around the world.
One of her earlier recruits is also the subject of a sainthood cause: the Servant of God, Mother Maria Riccarda (Mother Richard) Beauchamp Hambrough. Since the medieval Brigittines were big in England, it was natural that an English Catholic would have been equally enthusiastic about bringing back the order.
Her life is full of exciting things and interesting doings, including her little Roman convent’s involvement in resisting the Nazis and the Holocaust. There’s a lot of good stuff in her story, and she’s a credit to the US and her other countries!
Her canonization miracle was approved back on December 14, 2015, and now her canonization is officially set for June 5th.
I haven’t been able to find out what her specific canonization miracle was. Back in 2007, however, it was reported that the Brigittines had submitted a miracle where a Mexican sister of the order (Sister Martine Kochuvelikakathe from India) had called upon Mother Hesselblad in December 2001, when a thug was going to fire a gun at her, and the gun miraculously jammed. Probably it wasn’t that one, though, unless there was more to it. (Sainthood cause miracles have a lot of requirements.)
A Swedish newspaper’s article in English. (Doesn’t remember St. Catherine of Sweden!)