St. Gertrude, Abbess.

Gertrude was born in the year 1263, of a noble Saxon family, and placed at the age of five for education in the Benedictine abbey of Rodelsdorf. Her strong mind was carefully cultivated, and she wrote Latin with unusual elegance and force; above all, she was perfect in humility and mortification, in obedience, and in all monastic observances. Her life was crowded with wonders. She has in obedience recorded some of her visions, in which she traces in words of indescribable beauty the intimate converse of her soul with Jesus and Mary. She was gentle to all, most gentle to sinners; filled with devotion to the Saints of God, to the souls in purgatory, and above all to the Passion of Our Lord and to His Sacred Heart. She ruled her abbey with perfect wisdom and love for forty years. Her life was one of great and almost continual suffering, and her longing to be with Jesus was not granted till 1334, when she had reached her seventy-second year.

– Alban Butler Lives of the Saints

Papal General Audience

St Gertrude the Great, of whom I would like to talk to you today, brings us once again this week to the Monastery of Helfta, where several of the Latin-German masterpieces of religious literature were written by women. Gertrude belonged to this world. She is one of the most famous mystics, the only German woman to be called “Great”, because of her cultural and evangelical stature: her life and her thought had a unique impact on Christian spirituality. She was an exceptional woman, endowed with special natural talents and extraordinary gifts of grace, the most profound humility and ardent zeal for her neighbour’s salvation. She was in close communion with God both in contemplation and in her readiness to go to the help of those in need. Read More…