2007 Archive Edition - See the Archive Notice on the Project Homepage for more information.
Gertrude the Great
Of unknown parentage, St. Gertrude was placed in the convent of Helfta, near Eisleben, Saxony, at the age of five. She excelled at the convent school and abandoned secular studies c. 1281, when she began to experience mystical visions during church services. With the aid of her friend and teacher, Mechtilde of Hackeborn, Gertrude studied the Scriptures, the Liturgy, and the writings of the Fathers of the Church. The two were among the first to devote themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to promote the veneration of it. A disciple recorded their teachings in The Book of Special Graces, also called Revelations of St. Gertrude and St. Mechtilde and the Maude book. It, with the Herald of God's Loving-kindness (of which Gertrude wrote one book; the remainder was based on a disciple's notes), became a popular devotional book and is classified as an expression of nuptial mysticism, in which Christ is the bridegroom. Physically ill the last ten years of her life, Gertrude died in 1302.
She has never been formally canonized. Innocent XI added her name to the Roman martyrology in 1677, and at the request of the King of Poland and the Duke of Saxony, Clement XII extended her feast to the Roman church as a whole in 1738.
Karen Rae Keck
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