Gertrude the Great
Feast Day: November 16
There are several saints who have the words “the great” after their names, but St. Gertrude the Great is the only female to have that honor.
Gertrude of Helfta was a Benedictine nun, a mystic, a writer, and a theologian who was born in what is now Germany in 1256. Some histories say she was an orphan who came to the monastery as a young girl of about five years of age. After receiving an education she decided to become a nun, but while she was very interested in learning, the spiritual side of her education as not as important to her.
It wasn’t until she was about 25 years old that Gertrude began to truly feel the intensity of her vocation. At that time she had a vision of Jesus, who promised he would bring her Salvation.
From that time on, Gertrude was dedicated to God. She became a Scripture scholar and a writer, and people came from all over seeking her guidance. She was a happy woman who led people to love God as she did.
She died around the year 1301 following a long and painful illness in which she offered her suffering up for others. Many of her writings have been lost, but some of her books are still studied today. Pope Clement XII declared that she was a saint in 1677.
In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI said of St. Gertude: “She is one of the most famous mystics, the only German woman to be called ‘Great,’ because of her cultural and evangelical stature: her life and her thought had a unique impact on Christian spirituality.”
Connecting to RCL Benziger’s Family Life