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Cecilia Bengtsdotter

1600-talet?

Preacher, prophet

For a period in the 1670s, Cecilia Bengtsdotter was a prophet who awoke a great deal of attention when spreading her eschatological message in Östergötland, Norrköping, Linköping and Stockholm.

It is not known where Cecilia Bengtsdotter was born. She herself insisted that it was in Svenljunga parish in Östergötland. Her birthdate is also unknown. Hers father’s name was Bengt Andersson. Her first husband’s name was Clas and the second was a regimental saddle-maker. When she appears in the source materials, she had been a widow for some years, for the second time, and she was travelling around the countryside. It is possible she lived by begging. Her first revelations came to her in Västra Husby in Östergötland, where she heard a voice from heaven in 1673 around Michaelmas. She went and tried to find a room for the night at a chaplain’s farm, but was denied. Then she heard the voice again, telling her to go to the vicarage and ask for the vicar. The voice also exhorted her to give him the message that he must warn people to abstain from greed, vanity, sumptuous clothes and curled hair. If he did not follow this exhortation, the voice said that it would rain worms and snakes for three days. According to her story, this had actually happened in Norrköping, but the worms had immediately died of cold.

The second time Cecilia Bengtsdotter heard the voice was soon after arriving in the city of Norrköping. Outside the city, she sat on a stone and prayed while the church bells rang in the evening. The voice asked why she had not gone to the vicar. She responded that she did not know what she was expected to do, and she was immediately deprived of her speaking ability until she should remember what the message was that she was expected to deliver. She later took this with her to priests in Norrköping and Linköping, among others Bishop Terserus. She was exhorted by the priests to tell them her revelations – if she had had revelations, she must not be silent about them. In connection with this, she became unable to eat or drink for three weeks.

Cecilia Bengtsdotter carried her message on to Stockholm, where she arrived at Christmas time in 1674. Here she had her third revelation, when one night she heard the voice exhort her to speak to the king. The king ought not to leave the country for a period of one year and he ought to do something about the great vanity in the nation. Sweden had for a long time been corrupted by foreign gentry, and if the message from heaven was not obeyed, snakes would rain down from the sky. In Stockholm, she sought the chaplain at St Klara Church, who turned to the Stockholm cathedral chapter and told them that she had handed him some written documents describing how she had heard a voice from heaven. After that, she was committed to Danviken hospital, the reason for this being unclear. It appears not to have been done for primarily medical reasons. She did indeed admit that she suffered from her spleen, or was melancholic, but the priesthood who had interrogated her listened attentively to her messages and considered them not objectionable in the slightest. She was found to know her Christianity satisfyingly well. Her presence in the capital awoke a good deal of attention, and led to crowds gathering. A number of people also visited her in Danviken where she had a number of new visions.

When Cecilia Bengtsdotter left Stockholm is unclear, but in 1677 she applied to Linköping cathedral chapter for a place at Söderköping hospital since she had not been given her whole food allowance at Danviken. After that, there are no traces of Cecilia Bengtsdotter in the archives.


Karin Sennefelt
(Translated by Margaret Myers)


Published 2020-06-22



You are welcome to cite this article but always provide the author’s name as follows:

Cecilia Bengtsdotter, www.skbl.se/sv/artikel/CeciliaBengtsdotter0, Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon (article by Karin Sennefelt), retrieved 2020-07-02.




Family Relationships

Civil Status: Widow
  • Mother: [Uppgifter saknas]
  • Father: Bengt Andersson
  • Husband: Clas [Uppgift saknas]
  • Husband: [Uppgift saknas]


Activities

  • Non-profit work: Religiös förkunnare, "profet"


Contacts

  • Colleague: Johannes Elai Terserus
  • Colleague: Olaus Svebilius


Residences

  • Birthplace: Svenljunga
  • Stockholm


Sources

Archive
  • Stockholms stadsarkiv. Stockholms domkapitels protokoll



Keywords

17th century