St. Gertrude the Great November 16

St Gertrude Prayers for Holy Souls in Purgatory

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son,  Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen

“Angels constantly guard the clients of this Blessed Virgin from the assaults of Hell.” St. Gertrude the Great

St. Gertrude the Great, or St. Gertrude of Helfta, was born on January 6, 1256 in Germany. She eventually chose to follow the Lord by pursuing a vocation as a Benedictine Nun.

Her deep relationship with the Lord in prayer led to her being hailed as a mystic. She was also regarded as a great theologian.

Although little is known about Gertrude’s childhood, it is widely accepted that at just four-years-old, she was enrolled in the Cistercian monastery school of Helfta in Saxony, under the governance of Abbess Gertrude of Hackerborn.

The Cistercian movement was an effort to bring the Benedictine religious community back to a stricter and more faithful adherence to the original “Rule” or way of life encouraged by St Benedict.

Some sources speculate that Gertrude’s parents offered their child as an oblate, a lay person especially dedicated to God or to God’s service, while others believe she may have entered the monastery school as an orphan.

St. Mechtilde, the younger sister of the Abbess Gertrude, took care of young Gertrude. Gertrude and Mechtilde had a strong bond that only grew deeper with time, allowing Mechtilde to have a great influence over Gertrude.

Gertrude, known for being charming and able to win people over, entered the Benedictine Order at Helfta and became a nun.

She devoted herself to her studies, and received an education in many different subjects. Gertrude was both fluent in Latin and very familiar with scripture and works from the Fathers of the Church, including Augustine.

In 1281, 25-year-old Gertrude experienced her first series of visions that would continue until the day she passed away.

Her visions altered her life and she saw this moment as her new birth.

Her priorities turned away from secular teachings and focuses more on studying Scripture and theology. Her life became full with this awakening and she was an enthusiastic student, writing for the spiritual benefit of others.

Gertrude once had a vision on the feast of John the Evangelist, described in Gertrude’s writings.

As she rested her head near Jesus’ wound on his side, she could hear the beating of his heart. She asked St. John if he, too, felt the beating of Jesus’ Divine Heart on the night of the Last Supper. He told her he was saving this revelation for a time when the world needed it to rekindle its love.

She went on to become one of the great mystics of the 13th century. Along with St. Mechtilde, she practiced what is known as “nuptial mysticism,” seeing herself as the bride of Christ.

She embraced charity for both rich and poor, she was a simple woman with a deep solidarity with those not yet ready for the beatific vision, who are still being purified in the state of repose known as purgatory.

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Gertrude assisted at the deathbeds and mourned for the loss of both Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn in 1291 and her dearly loved St. Mechtilde in 1298. Gertrude’s health began to deteriorate, but she continued to only show her love for the Lord.

“Until the age of 25, I was a blind and insane woman… but you, Jesus, deigned to grant me the priceless familiarity of your friendship by opening to me in every way that most noble casket of your divinity, which is your divine Heart, and offering me in great abundance all your treasures contained in it”.

On November 17, 1301, Gertrude passed away a virgin and joined her Bridegroom forever.

Throughout her life, Gertrude produced numerous writings, although only a few still exists today. One of her longest surviving works is Legatus Memorialis Abundantiae Divinae Pietatis (The Herald of Divine Love). Her other standing works include, her collection of Spiritual Exercises and Preces Gertrudianae (Gertrudian Prayers).

The Herald of Divine Love is composed of five different books. Book two is the core of the work, and was written solely by Gertrude. It is a notable piece of writing, because it includes detailed descriptions of Gertrude’s visions and a veneration of Christ’s heart. The other four books are believed to have been composed by other nuns.

Although Gertrude was never formally canonized, Rome approved a liturgical office of prayer and readings in her honor. To separate her from Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn, Pope Benedict XIV gave her the title, “the Great,” making her the only woman saint to be called, “the Great.”

St. Gertrude the Great is the Patroness of the West Indies and she is often invoked for souls in purgatory.

Her feast day is celebrated on November 16.

Feast of St. Gertrude of Helfta: 16 November

Author: Paola Rossi

Feast of St. Gertrude of Helfta: 16 November

Paola Rossi

Gertrude: the only female Saint to be called “the Great”

Gertrude of Helfta was a highly intelligent woman. She was born on 6 January 1256 in the little town of Eisleben in Thuringia. At age 5, Gertrude went to the Cistercian monastery school of Helfta in Saxony, and since then has always been known as “Gertrude of Helfta”. She dedicated herself to study, and it was not long before she surpassed all her companions.

She also discovered Christ in the monastery, and the beauty of living for him and with him in the intimacy of love. But the divine Teacher remained in the background of her life for some time while she used all her faculties to improve her education, becoming proficient in literature, philosophy, song and the refined art of miniature painting.

After several years, Gertrude moved from the monastery school to the novitiate, taking the veil and becoming a nun. For her Jesus was “Someone”, but her studies were still her all. But she was not on the wrong track, for knowledge, when it goes hand in hand with humility, does not distance people from God. And he was waiting on her path.

Experiencing a ‘new birth’

In 1280, she was 24 years old and a half-hearted and distracted nun. Towards the end of the year, she went through an inner crisis that lasted several weeks. She felt lonely. lost and depressed. Her human plans disintegrated like shattered idols. This might have been the end of everything, but instead, it was a new beginning.

On 27 January 1281, Gertrude saw Jesus in person in the form of a marvellous adolescent who said to her, “I have come to comfort you and bring you salvation”. Remembering that day, she was to write: “Jesus, my Redeemer, you have lowered my indomitable head to your gentle yoke, preparing for me the medicine suited to my weakness”. From that moment, she was solely concerned with living in full union with Jesus.

In her writings, she established the date of her newfound unity with Christ as 23 June 1281: all her life she must have seen that day as the day of her new birth, the birth of the true Gertrude in the image of Christ.

She abandoned the study of profane subjects and dedicated herself entirely to the study of Scripture, writings of the Church Fathers and theological treatises. She found extraordinary delight in reading the letters of Augustine, Gregory the Great, Bernard and Hugh of Saint-Victor.

From a scholar specialized in the humanities, she became a “theologian” filled with God and his fragrance. Her life was truly filled with the Lord alone.

But Gertrude did not want to be the only one to enjoy this supreme “Pleasure”: so she began to write short treatises for the Sisters in the monastery and those who approached her in which she explained the most difficult passages of Scripture. true spiritual treasures written in a clear and lively style.

The monastery parlour was also often filled with people in search of her words, comfort and guidance. She exercised a great influence on souls.

A confidant of Jesus

Since her conversion, she had become the confidant of Jesus, who revealed to her the infinite Love of his divine Heart and charged her to spread it among human beings with love for the suffering and for sinners. Gertrude’s ecstasies with Jesus prompted her to write those ardent pages that would bring souls to him.

Humble, always happy and smiling, with a loving heart for all, she sparkled with trust, joy and peace, and led everyone to the Lord. To her soul, Jesus was like a spring day, vibrant with life and scented with flowers: Love par excellence, the one overwhelming Love. This is why she is known on the one hand as the “Teresa of Germany” and on the other, the “theologian of the Sacred Heart”.

One day, Jesus said to Gertrude: “It would be good to make known to men and women how they would benefit from remembering that I, the Son of God and of the Blessed Virgin Mary, always stand before God for the salvation of the human race, and that should they commit some sin through their weakness. I offer my unblemished Heart to the Father for them”.

She truly became one with Jesus and transmitted him to her brethren in the many works she has bequeathed to us. some of which have been lost.

In 1298 her health deteriorated but she transformed her sufferings into love, an offering with Jesus to the Father and a gift for humankind.

During her long and painful illness, she decided to recount the “adventure” of her conversion and to tell of the wonderful revelations with which Jesus had favoured her: “Until the age of 25, I was a blind and insane woman… but you, Jesus, deigned to grant me the priceless familiarity of your friendship by opening to me in every way that most noble casket of your divinity, which is your divine Heart, and offering me in great abundance all your treasures contained in it”.

On 17 November 1301, at age 45. she rejoined her Bridegroom for ever. Interestingly, she is the only woman among the saints to be called “the Great’: St. Gertrude the Great

Saint Gertrude of Helfta

1256 – 1302

FEAST DAY: NOVEMBER 16

PATRON OF: NUNS, TRAVELERS, TARRAGONA, SPAIN, THE WEST INDIES

Placed in the Cistercian abbey at Helfta in Saxony at the age of five, Gertrude never left the convent. She had a phenomonal intellect and immersed herself in her studies. At the age of 25 she had a vision of Christ that changed the course of her life. She lost all interest in secular studies, concentrating instead on religious literature. Her own mystical writings influenced many future saints, and she was the first to meditate on the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Also known as “Gertrude the Great”, she received a revelation from Christ promising to free 1000 souls from Purgatory each time the following prayer si said. Since November is the month to remember the dead, this prayer is particularly apt.

Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son,  Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen

Image: 17th Century painting from the Cistercian Monastery in Tarragona, Spain. The words around the heart say: “You will find me in the heart of Gertrude.”

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