Wednesday, August 17, 2022

St Gertrude the Great – Feast Day – November 16

St Gertrude the Great was a Benedictine nun born on January 6 1256 in Eisleben, Thuringia, Germany, and died in 1302 in Helfta, Saxony, Germany. We celebrate her feast day on November 16 every year in the Catholic Church.

Saint Gertrude the Great, Virgin is the Patron Saint of

  • West Indies
St Gertrude the Great, Virgin Biography
St Gertrude the Great - Feast Day - November 16
St Gertrude the Great – Feast Day – November 16
Date of Birth January 6 1256
Place of Birth Eisleben, Thuringia, Germany
Profession Benedictine nun, mystic, and theologian
Place of Work Germany
Date of Death 1302 AD
Place of Death Helfta, Saxony, Germany
Feast Day November 16
Canonization Equipollent canonization by Pope Innocent XI in 1677
Patron Saint of West Indies

St Gertrude the Great Life History

St Gertrude the Great was born on January 6 1256 during the feast of the Epiphany. When she was four years old, she joined St. Mary’s School owned by the Benedictine monastery at Helfta and administered by the abbess, Gertrude of Hackeborn.

It is believed that either her pious and devout parents dedicated her to the Church as an oblate or she went to the monastery school as an orphan for her parents died when she was very young.

In 1266, St Gertrude the Great joined the monastery’s community and was placed under the care of Abbess Gertrude’s younger sister called Mechtilde (later canonized as Mechtilde of Hackeborn). 

At the age of 25 years, in 1281, she started to experience visions that became more frequent throughout her life. This changed her focus from secular academic knowledge to studying theology and the scripture.

St Gertrude the Great spent most of her time in meditation, personal prayer, and writing essays that were useful to her fellow sisters. She also practiced nuptial mysticism whereby she perceived herself as the Bride of Christ.

She wrote many writings including the one that has survived until today called The Herald of Divine Love or The Herald of God’s Loving-Kindness. There are also writings of her personal prayers and spiritual exercises. 

Those Spiritual Exercises are replicated today during Catholic Liturgy occasions such as Baptism, preparation for death, and discipleship.

St Gertrude was a great devotee of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She had a vision of Herself resting her head on Jesus’ bosom and hearing the heartbeat. When she inquired from St John the Apostle if he heard the same heartbeats when he rested on Jesus’ bosom during the last supper, John replied yes! 

When St Gertrude asked John why he did not reveal this, John answered and said that this revelation was preserved for future generations who would receive it and rekindle their dwindling love for God.

After her death, most of her written work got lost but those that survived were printed in the 16th century in Latin, German and Italian and became very popular in such a way that in the 17th century in France, her devotion was used to fight Jansenism.

Her personal prayers were also used by other saints like St Philip Neri and St Francis de Sales, who also recommended them to other faithful.

Death

The exact date of St Gertrude the Great’s death is not clear but she died around 1302 at the age of 46 years in Helfta, Saxony, Germany.

Canonization

St Gertrude the Great’s canonization did not follow the formal route. She received equipollent canonization from Pope Innocent XI in 1677. Her work, prayers, readings, and hymns were approved by the Church.

St Gertrude was given the title “the Great” to differentiate her from her abbess, Gertrude of Hackeborn, and to recognize her theological and spiritual contributions to the Catholic Church.

St Gertrude the Great Feast Day

We celebrate her feast day on November 16 every year in the Catholic Church.

St Gertrude Prayer

Eternal Father,
I offer You
the Most Precious Blood
of Your 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.

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