November 2006 - Volume 11, Issue 4

Saint Of The Month

St. Gertrude The Great – November 16

Painting of Saint Gertrude The GreatAlthough Gertrude has never been formally canonized, she is revered throughout the world. She has been honored by various popes over the years, including Benedict XIV, who added "the Great" to her name because of her insightful writings.

When Gertrude was just five years old, she was entrusted to the care of the Benedictine Abbey of Helfta in Saxony. She received an excellent education at the convent under the supervision of her friend and mentor Mechtilde, and at the age of about 15 she took her vows. According to records left by the Sisters, Gertrude was a bright child who took her learning very seriously. Better educated than most women of the time, she was so devoted to her secular studies that she sometimes neglected her spiritual side.

When Gertrude was 25 years old, her uneventful monastic life changed. She received the first of a series of visions of the Risen Christ. The figure of Christ spoke to her, saying, "Do not fear. I will save you and set you free." As a result of this experience, her spirit was reborn, and she began to devote her time to prayer and studying Scripture.

She also wrote extensively. Her Spiritual Exercises are still used today by many who wish to deepen their relationship with God. Gertrude is also known for her devotion to the Sacred Heart as an image of Christ's humanity. Although she strove for perfection, Gertrude recognized her own shortcomings. Unlike others who humiliated themselves before the Lord for every fault, Gertrude rejoiced in the gifts God had given her.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus,
fountain of eternal life,
Your Heart is a glowing furnace of Love,
You are my refuge and my sanctuary.
O my adorable and loving Savior,
consume my heart with the burning fire
with which Yours is aflamed.
Pour down on my soul those graces
which flow from Your love.
Let my heart be united with Yours.
Let my will be conformed to Yours
in all things.
May Your Will be the rule
of all my desires and actions.


From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives