Parental Grief and Prayer in the Middle Ages : Religious Coping in Swedish Miracle Stories

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article focuses on expressions of bereavement and religious coping in medieval miracle stories from Sweden. The stories come from the collections of St. Birgitta (Bridget) of Sweden, the Blessed Bishop Nicolaus Hermanni (Sw. Nils Hermansson) of Linköping and the Blessed Katarina of Vadstena, and were recorded in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
Catherine M. Sanders’s modern five stages of bereavement have been used as the theory of analysis through Kay Talbot’s adaptation of the theory for parents in grief. This theoretical foundation has provided new insights into how parental grief was expressed in medieval Sweden – and in stark contrast to Continental research on the same topic. Parents of both sexes expressed their grief outwardly through tears and crying, and a reluctance to accept that their children were dead. Throughout the miracle stories, lay people constructed their own prayers for miraculous intervention without the aid of any priests. This makes fathers and mothers in medieval Sweden agents of their own in terms of praying to God and being able to construct their own forms of religious coping.


  • Viktor Aldrin
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Philosophy, Ethics and Religion


  • practical theology, pastoral theology, religious coping, grief, middle ages, scandinavia
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-105
JournalCollegium: Studies Across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note