Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hail, Saintly Abbess and Mystic

                                     "St. Gertrude the Great," monastery church at Arouca, Portugal

Today is the feast of St. Gertrude, sometimes styled "the Great" (1256 AD -  1301 AD).  At the age of 5, St. Gertrude entered the Benedictine convent Saint Mary of Helfta, Eisleben, Saxony, where she was placed under the guidance of St. Mechtilde.  St. Gertrude was a holy, humble and popular nun and abbess.  At the age of 26, she received the first of a series of visions concerning the Sacred Heart.  The visions continued until St. Gertrude's death at the age of 45 or 46.

Of St. Gertrude's spirituality, the Catholic Encyclopedia  says:

"The characteristic of St. Gertrude's piety is her devotion to the Sacred Heart, the symbol of that immense charity which urged the Word to take flesh, to institute the Holy Eucharist, to take on Himself our sins, and, dying on the Cross, to offer Himself as a victim and a sacrifice to the Eternal Father (Congregation of Rites, April 3, 1825). Faithful to the mission entrusted to them, the superiors of Helfta appointed renowned theologians, chosen from the Dominican and Franciscan friars, to examine the works of the saint. These approved and commended them throughout."

St. Gertrude's spirituality had a great influence upon St. Teresa of Avila, St. Francis de Sales, and Dom Gueranger, who re-established Benedictine monasticism in France after the Revolution.

St. Gertrude, pray for us.

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