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Cantus Sororum

Liturgical song book for the Bridgettine Order, produced in a Bridgettine convent during the 15th century and consisting of 112 pages, hand-written, and medieval wooden boards.

The book still has its original medieval wooden covers. The text initials are done in blue, mauve and gold. The text is mostly in Latin, but some headings are in Old Swedish. The book has only one illustration, namely in the initial V which opens the Sunday reading. The text begins “ Verbum de quo euuangelista Iohannes in ewangelio suo facit mencionem…” which translates as ”The word of which John the Evangelist speaks in his Gospel…”

The initial V contains a picture of St Bridget, identifiably dressed as a married woman with wimple and mantle. She sits in a chair with armrests, eyes closed, writing down her Revelations. These are indicated by the hand of God pointing to her head. The picture vividly conveys Bridget’s direct relationship with God during her Revelations and the way in which she is merely an instrument for that which is to be communicated.

This work was probably brought to Vadstena from the Munkeliv convent in Bergen, Norway, in 1531, when Munkeliv was dissolved as part of the Danish-Norwegian Reformation. The Norwegian sisters took refuge in Vadstena Convent, where activities continued until 1596, when the convent was dissolved for good.

Cantus Sororum is the Bridgettine convent’s breviary, containing the liturgical songs to be performed, week by week, at the canonical hours. These consist of songs to the Virgin Mary and chants for readings from St Bridget’s Revelations. The form of Cantus Sororum was defined, in accordance with St Bridget’s instructions, by Petrus Olavi, her confessor.