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|
|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.
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.
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
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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