GERTRUDE
the GREAT
 
(1256 - c.1302)

 

 St. Gertrude, Vieire, 1795

St. GERTRUDE,‘The Great’ (1256–c. 1302), German mystic.  She is to be distinguished from the Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn (1232–92), with whom she was long confused in older works and in the Breviary.  At the age of five she was entrusted to the Benedictine (or Cistercian) convent of Helfta in Thuringia, where she received a sound education.  She experienced a conversion at the age of twenty-five, and from that time led a life of contemplation.

Her ‘Legatus Divinae Pietatis’, of which only the Second Book was written by herself (the other four being based on her notes), is one of the finest literary products of Christian mysticism.  Most of her mystical experiences took place during the liturgical offices of the Church which were the mainspring of her spirituality.

 St. Gertrude was one of the first exponents of devotion to the Sacred Heart, which she believed was revealed to her in several visions, described in her book with great beauty and simplicity.  She also wrote a collection of prayers, ‘Exercitia Spiritualia’ [Spiritual Exercises], some of which have become very popular in Roman Catholic piety. 

She was never formally canonized, but her cult was first authorized in 1606 and extended to the entire RC Church by Clement XIII in 1738, and since 1677 she has been included in the Roman Martyrology.  Feast day (since 1932), 16 Nov.; in the Benedictine Order, 17 Nov.  She is the patroness of the West Indies.


This Webpage was created for a workshop held at Saint Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo, California in 1990....x....  ’ “”.