Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon

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Cecilia Ulfsdotter

Ca 13371399-03-12

Noblewoman, donor, mentioned in the Birgittine legend

Cecilia Ulfsdotter was an eminent member of the titled classes

Cecilia Ulfsdotter was the daughter of Saint Birgitta. Her father was Ulf Gudmarsson of the family of Ulvåsa, a knight and judge. Her birthdate is unknown, but it must have been before 1341 when her sister Märta was last married. Cecilia Ulfsdotter is named in a chronicle written by the Abbess of Vadstena Convent, Märta Clausdotter, and also in the Diarum Vaztenense, where her birth is described. The divine portents that were said to have appeared around the birth of Cecilia Ulfsdotter must have surrounded the young girl with great expectations.

When she was very young, Cecilia Ulfsdotter was sent to Skänninge Convent, but according to Märta Clausdotter’s chronicle she was very reluctant to go. This event is also mentioned in one of Birgitta’s visions, in which Jesus is said to have spoken about Cecilia Ulfsdotter’s welfare and future in the form of questions about marriage. It is not known under which conditions she came to leave the convent, but it is thought that her brother Karl Ulfsson was the person who took her away. In Birgitta’s Revelaciones, Jesus says to Birgitta that although the Lord had most certainly said that virginity is the highest and most angelic state, it is nonetheless deformed if “the virginity of the will” (“vilians jomfrudombir”) is not in agreement with “the virginity of the flesh” (“kötsins jomfrudom”), and in that case it is preferable to be “a humble married woman” (“ödhmiuk gift qvinna”).

Cecilia Ulfsdotter married Lars Sonesson (Örnsparre) av Ådö, who according to Märta Clausdotter’s chronicle was a master of curative arts. The marriage received no support from friends and relatives, but it bore fruit. The chronicle mentions three children, but of them only Birgitta (who became a sister in the Vadstena Convent and who is supposed to have been a very holy person) and Katarina (who married Sten Stensson (Bielke)) are actually named.

Lars Sonesson died at the latest in 1377, when Cecilia Ulfsdotter as his widow entered into a settlement, but he was probably already dead in 1375. That year, Bengt Filipsson, Cecilia Ulfsdotter’s next husband, sealed a letter together with her and her sister, which indicates that Cecilia Ulfsdotter had already remarried at that point. Bengt Filipsson (Tillbakaseende ulv) became a knight at some point between 1346 and 1349, privy councillor at the latest in 1361 and was a circuit judge in several different hundreds. Cecilia Ulfsdotter was his third wife and he was probably much older than she. They had no children together.

Through very considerable donations of land, among others the Ådö estate that she had received as her dowry, Cecilia Ulfsdotter supported the new convent that her mother had founded in Vadstena, and, like her siblings, she was dedicated to the convent’s prosperity. Her economic contribution to the convent was so great that it was noted in Märta Clausdotter’s chronicle, in which the chronicle points out that Cecilia Ulfsdotter gave “many goods” (“mykyt godz”). When she was widowed for the second time, sometime between 1381 and 1382, she moved to Vadstena Convent and “when she had lived honestly and well God called her away from the world” (“när hon haffde ärleka oc wäl leffwat kallade Gudh hänne aff wärldenne”).

Cecilia died on 12 March 1399 and was buried at Vadstena Convent close to her brother Birger.

Charlotte Cederbom
(Translated by Margaret Myers)

Published 2020-03-02

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

Cecilia Ulfsdotter,, Svenskt kvinnobiografiskt lexikon (article by Charlotte Cederbom), retrieved 2024-07-19.

Other Names

    Alternate name: Ulvsdotter
    Other: av Ulvåsa-ätten

Family Relationships

Civil Status: Widow
  • Mother: Birgitta Birgersdotter
  • Father: Ulf Gudmarsson
  • Brother: Gudmar Ulfsson
more ...


  • Privatundervisning i hemmet, : Ståndsmässig uppfostran


  • Profession: Nunna, Skänninge nunnekloster
  • Non-profit work: Donator, olika kloster, främst Vadstena


  • Birgittinorden, Den allra heligaste Frälsarens orden (Ordo Sanctissimi Salvatoris)


  • Birthplace: Motala
  • Skänninge
  • Helgesta
more ...



14th century