At the time when the church was build only the rich people could buy a burial place inside the church.
The ones that couldn't afford this have been buried on the grounds around the Abbey Church and many of these old graves can be seen today on the way to the church's entrance.
It is said that Birgitta received the command from Jesus Christ to found a new order, a new convent while she was still living in Alvastra.
She told everything to her confessor who translated all into Latin.
The convent it was supposed to include both men and women, under the leadership of a mother and abbess.
Located at 25km from Vadstena, Alvastra was home of the largest monastery in Sweden.
Alvastra Monastery was founded by Cistercian French monks in 1143 and was the first of this order built in Scadinavia.
The core of the monastery was the church build of limestone from Omberg according to the order's simple architectural style.
The monastery was demolished after the Swedish Lutheran reformation in the 1530s and was never rebuilt.
The ruins can be seen from the main road, although from distance seem less impressive than they really are. A closer view is a indeed a travel back in time.
I've always loved the small harbors with colorful boats and blue water and Vadstena harbor is one of the most picturesque I've ever seen.
It was a real delight to walk along the shore of Lake Vattern from the Abbey Church to the Castle and enjoy this wonderful view.
The castle was very modern for the time when it was built, with 9m high walls, ramparts and a drawbridge.
The wedding of Gustav Vasa and his third wife, Katarina Stenbock in 1552 was also celebrated in a wooden house built in the courtyard and he also used this house as residents during his visits to Vadstena.
The old altarpiece, which can be found behind the altar, is without any doubt another treasure of the Abbey Church.
This triptych is made of painted wood and, although it was badly damaged during the years, the beauty of the representations is evident.
See more in my Details of Vadstena Abbey Church old Altarpiece travelogue.
The building of the castle began in 1545 and it was not finished before 1620.
Built initially as a fortress by king Gustav Vasa, it was transformed into a castle in 1555 by king Johan III, son of Gustav Vasa.
During the years members of the royal family lived here but around 1716, the castle was left to decay.
Since then it has been used for many purposes (e.g. deposit for corn) and part of the beautiful decoration was lost.
Today can be visited the cannon tower, passages, the royal chapel and the great halls. The third floor of the Castle is furnished the way it might have looked in the 17th Century.
The castle is housing Vadstena Tourist Office and the Provincial.
The tombs inside the church belong only to rich people who had enough money to buy a place.
Most of them were noblemen, craftsmen or priests.
Inside the church there is also the coffin of Gustav Wasa's son, Duke Magnus.
Birgitta gave accurate instructions regarding the building of the church and one of these was related to the decoration.
She didn't think that the abbey should be decorated.
It seems that one of the few exceptions is the decorative paintings of the arches, found during the restoration 1978-1983.
The church has large simple windows and pointed arches and stellar vaults supported by octagonal columns.
The abbey of Vadstena had great treasures received from kings and queens.
Some of these treasures are still kept in the church and one is definitely the altarpiece together with the triumphal crucifix, one of the most beautiful in Sweden.
According to the indications of Birgitta, the church had to be a simple humble building with no particular decoration and unadorned walls.
Among the oldest elements of the church is the statue of St. Birgitta, made of oak in Northern Germany and consecrated 1435.
The most valuable piece of the Abbey Church is Saint Birgitta's shrine.
Placed on the right side of the church's altar the shrine is made of wood with gilded fittings and covered by red velvet.
The shrine contains the remains of Birgitta brought in Vadstena a year after she died in Rome and those of Katarina, Vadstena's first abbess, added in 1389.
The building of the abbey began in 1370 when the confirmation of the Pope for the Birgettine order arrived.
The land was donated to Birgitta by King Magnus Eriksson and Queen Blanka in 1346 based on the promise to bury them in the church.
Due to the fact that is made of blue-grey limestone from Omberg, the abbey is also called Blakyrkan or the Blue church.
The abbey was consecrated in 1430 in the presence of king Erik of Pommern.
St. Birgitta of Vadstena or St. Bridget of Sweden, born in 1303, is the founder of the Bridgettine Order and also the best known northern countries saint.
Birgitta was born in a rich family and married Ulf Gudmarson, lord of Nericia, giving birth to eight children.
At the death of her husband in the monastery of Alvastra in 1344, Birgitta totally devoted herself to religion and her visions were renowned.
She founded the order of St. Saviour, or the Bridgettines, and received the Pope confirmation for the order in 1370.
She died in Rome in 1373 and was canonized in 1391 by Pope Boniface IX, and confirmed by the Council of Constance in 1415.
Her feast is celebrated on October 9.
Vadstena is part of Ostergotland County.
Located on the shores of Lake Vattern, the town covers an area of 183.2 sqm and has a total population of 7,600 inhabitants.
The history of Vadstena goes back in time until the 1300s when the town started to develop around Vadstena Cloister founded by Saint Birgitta, as the first monastery of the Bridgettine Order.
Vadstena of today is a lovely provincial town with elegant narrow streets, low wooden houses, a small picturesque harbor and a lot of vegetation.