St Gertrude The Great Feastday: November 16 Patron of the West Indies Died: 1302 St. Gertrude was born at Eisleben in Saxony. At the age of five, she was placed in the care of the Benedictine nuns at Rodalsdorf and later became a nun in the same monastery, of which she was elected Abbess in 1251. The following year she was obliged to take charge of the monastery at Helfta, to which she moved with her nuns. St. Gertrude had enjoyed a good education. She wrote and composed in Latin, and was versed in Sacred Literature. The life of this saint, though not replete with stirring events and striking actions, was one of great mental activity. It was the mystic life of the cloister, a life hidden with Christ in God. She was characterized by great devotion to the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord in His Passion and in the Blessed Eucharist, and by a tender love for the Blessed Virgin. She died in 1302. St Benedict of Nursia Feastday: March 21 and 11 July Patron Protector of Europe Died: 543 or 547 Benedict of Nursia (Italian: San Benedetto da Norcia) (c.480–547) is a Christian saint, honored by the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church as the patron saint of Europe and students. Benedict founded twelve communities for monks at Subiaco, Italy (about 64 km to the east of Rome), before moving to Monte Cassino in the mountains of southern Italy. The Catholic Order of St Benedict and the Anglican Order of St Benedict are of later origin and, moreover, not an “order” as commonly understood but merely a confederation of autonomous congregations. Benedict’s main achievement is his “Rule of Saint Benedict”, containing precepts for his monks. It is heavily influenced by the writings of John Cassian, and shows strong affinity with the Rule of the Master. But it also has a unique spirit of balance, moderation and reasonableness (ἐπιείκεια, epieikeia), and this persuaded most religious communities founded throughout the Middle Ages to adopt it. As a result, his Rule became one of the most influential religious rules in Western Christendom. For this reason, Benedict is often called the founder of western monasticism. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus Feastday: October 1 Patron of the Missions Died: 1897 (aged 24) Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (January 2, 1873 – September 30, 1897), or Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, born Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin, was a French Carmelite nun. She is also known as “The Little Flower of Jesus” or simply, “The Little Flower”. She felt an early call to religious life, and overcoming various obstacles, in 1888 at the early age of 15, she became a nun and joined two of her elder sisters in the cloistered Carmelite community of Lisieux, Normandy. After nine years as a Carmelite religious, having fulfilled various offices such as sacristan and assistant to the novice mistress, and having spent her last eighteen months in Carmel in a night of faith, she died of tuberculosis at the age of 24. Thérèse lived a hidden life and “wanted to be unknown,” yet became popular after her death through her spiritual autobiography. She also left letters, poems, religious plays, prayers, and her last conversations were recorded by her sisters. Paintings and photographs – mostly the work of her sister Céline – further led to her being recognized by millions of men and women. The depth of her spirituality, of which she said, “my way is all confidence and love,” has inspired many believers. In the face of her littleness and nothingness, she trusted in God to be her sanctity. She wanted to go to heaven by an entirely new little way. “I wanted to find an elevator that would raise me to Jesus.” The elevator, she wrote, would be the arms of Jesus lifting her in all her littleness.