Helen of Skovde

(d. c. 1160)

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(d. c.1160).

She was of aristocratic birth from Vastergôtland, was married young and widowed soon afterwards. She then devoted her wealth and work to the cause of religion and the service of the poor. On her return from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land she was killed by the relatives of her son-in-law for supposedly conniving at his death. Her body was buried at Skovde in the church which she had built. On the strength of the miracles claimed there Alexander III authorized her cult as a saint. Like some others who met a violent death in Scandinavia she was venerated as a martyr. Her cult was widespread in medieval Sweden and parts of Denmark such as Tusvilde (Zeeland), which claimed some relics: it is attested by surviving paintings and sculptures. She was regarded as the patron of Vastergôtland and even of all Sweden. Feast: 31 July.

AA.SS. Iul. VII (1759), 343: Scriptores rerum Sueciarum, iii (part 2), 135–8; B.L.S., vii. 260–1; Bibl. SS., iv. 996–7.

Subjects: Christianity.

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