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She was born at Eisleben in Thuringia. As a girl she was educated by the Benedictine nuns at Helfta and was particularly talented at literature and philosophy. She turned to God and became a nun herself. She was devoted to the mystery of the Incarnation, in particular to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Eucharist. She was the recipient of many mystical experiences, and her spiritual writings had great influence in later centuries and indirectly contributed to the establishment of the feast of the Sacred Heart.

Below is a beautiful prayer composed by St Gertrude to Christ:

‘Ah Jesus my faithful friend, may the abyss of your generous mercy be safest hiding place for me, in which I may escape the horrible insults of all my enemies. And you yourself be for me then my safe asylum, into which I may joyfully leap from the captivity of all evils. Ah Jesus, my dulcet hope, may your deific heart broken by love for me which lies uninterruptedly open to all sinners, be the first refuge of my soul out of its body. There, in the abyss of unlimited love, may my entire transgression be absorbed in a moment so that I may, without any obstacle, enter with you into the heavenly dance, O cherished one of my heart’.

St Gertrude of Helfa (1256-1302)


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