Gertrude lived in a golden age that had some of the most inspiring Mystics and writers of great worth to the Catholic Church and the world, Mystics such as Francis of Assisi, Albert the Great and the writer Dante.
Gertrude herself was born in the year 1256 in what was Saxony(Germany), not much is known about her beginnings suffice to say she was placed into an orphanage at the young age of 5 years old. This is not unusual for this time period for many women often died while giving birth and the lack of hygiene also contributed to many deaths brought on by diseases.
Though still very young Gertrude found a home with the Benedictine Nuns in Helfta, being so young the Mother Abbess placed Gertrude into the care of Mechtilde of Hackeborn, who happened to be the sister of the Mother Abbess. In this holy though austere atmosphere, the young Gertrude thrived, it would be when she turned 26 years of age that God touched her soul in a direct manner.
One day as Gertrude made her way down the hall, she bowed as a Sister passed by, but it was when the 'Sister' stopped that Gertrude saw that it was our Lord who was appearing before her, Gertrude described Him in these words, " He is more beautiful than all the children of men". Gertrude was awestruck by seeing our Lord before her, especially as she had been suffering spiritual aridity for sometime, her heart filled with such joy it nearly burst. Our Lord spoke to her saying, "Your salvation is at hand; why are you consumed with grief? Have you no counselor, that you are so changed by sadness?" Gertrude upon hearing these words then found herself before a choir of nuns as she looked on and observed them singing praises to God, our Lord then said to Gertrude, " I will save you, I will deliver you; fear not." Jesus then placed His hand on Gertrude assuring her that He would keep His promise. This brought such joy to Gertrude's heart and soul as she had suffered great torments in her spiritual aridity. Our Lord then consoled Gertrude with these words, "You have licked the dust with My enemies, and you have suckered honey amidst thorns; but return now to Me-I will receive you, and inebriate you with the torrent of My celestial delights."
Gertrude was stunned by the enormity of seeing her beloved Lord and tried to reach out to Him in her zealousness, but found instead that a barrier stood before her, which Gertrude recognised as her sins which was separating them. Before Gertrude fell into a deep sadness, our gracious Lord instead reached for her and Gertrude took hold of His Hand which then brought her to His side. Through this Gertrude was made to realise that it was the distractions of the world which had distanced her from experiencing the love of God, she was made to realise what God found pleasing and what He did not! Gertrude from then on decided to do away with the vanities of the world including reading fine books which had very little spiritual content and other vagaries of delight such as music which did not praise God.
Upon receiving the five wounds of our Lord within her heart, Gertrude exclaimed, "O my Savior, I wish to bring to you every soul, that You might take delight in each." Gertrude was to become the recipient of many Divine Messages for the world and to experience many more miracles.
One of these miracles was when she was visited by St. John the beloved Apostle with Jesus by his side, where upon a stunned Gertrude exclaimed, "my most amiable Lord, how can this be that You present Your most beloved disciple to me-me, an unworthy creature?" Whereupon our Lord responded with this, "I wish to establish between him and you an intimate friendship; he shall be the Apostle, to instruct and to correct you." Upon finishing this St. John then spoke to Gertrude, "Come, Spouse of my Master, together let us lay our heads on the most tender bosom of the Lord, in which all the treasures of Heaven and earth are enclosed." Upon hearing this Gertrude then placed her head upon the chest of Jesus with John by her side, as she listened to the beating of His Sacred Heart Gertrude exclaimed in exultation, "well beloved of the Lord, did these harmonious beatings, which rejoice my soul, also rejoice yours when you reposed during the Last Supper on the bosom of our Savior?"..How is it then that in your gospel you have spoken so little of the loving secrets of the Heart of Jesus Christ?" St. John the Apostle replied to Gertrude, "My ministry was confined to speaking of the Divine Word, the eternal Son of the Father, some words of deep meaning upon which human intelligence might meditate for ever without ever exhausting their richness; but to these latter times was reserved the grace of hearing the eloquent voice of the Heart of Jesus. At this voice the world will renew its youth, be roused from its lethargy and again be inflamed with the warmth of the Divine love." These words spoken by the beloved disciple gave Gertrude much to ponder on, as did the words of our Lord, this was just the beginning of the extraordinary experiences which would touch Gertrude's life henceforth.
Once upon delivering a lecture to her fellow Sisters at Lent her words so moved another of her Sisters that our Lord said to her concerning Gertrude, "I have borne her in My arms from her infancy. I have preserved her in her baptismal purity and innocence, until she, by her own free choice and will, has given herself to Me entirely and forever; and as a recompense for the perfection of her desires, I in return, have given Myself entirely to her. So pleasing is this soul to Me, that when I am offended by men, I often enter therein to repose, and I make her endure some pain of body or of mind, which I inflict on her for the sins of others; and as she accepts this suffering with the same thanksgiving, humility and patience as she receives all that comes from Me, and offers it to Me in union with My sufferings, she appeases my anger, and obliges My mercy to pardon, for her sake, an immense number of sinners." Though Gertrude was greatly favoured by God this did not make Gertrude prideful indeed it humbled her to realise that our Lord would come to one so little and so in need.
While in prayer Gertrude was again saw Jesus who was carrying a great building on His Shoulders as He said to her explaining its meaning, "Behold with what labor, care and vigilance I carry this beloved house, which is none other than that of Religion. It is everywhere threatened with ruin, because there are so few persons who are willing to do or to suffer anything for its support and increase. You, therefore, should suffer with Me in bearing it; for all those who endeavor, by their words or actions, to extend religion, and who try to establish it in its first fervor and purity, are so many strong pillars which sustain this holy house and comfort Me by sharing with Me the weight of this burden."
As the word spread of the great favour that had been bestowed on Gertrude, many visitors came to Gertrude seeking spiritual advice from her, but as always Gertrude being truly humble of heart was concerned that she would give the wrong advice, where upon our Lord reassured Gertrude with these words, "Does not the Universal Church allow that I formerly said to Peter alone,....'Whatever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed in heaven', and at the same time believe that the ministers of the Church exercise the same power now? Why, then, do you not believe that I can and will carry out whatever Divine love prompts Me to promise you?" Jesus then reached forward and touched Gertrude on her tongue before adding, "Behold I have given My words in thy mouth": "And I truly confirm whatever you may say to others at My suggestion and in my name: to whomsoever you shall promise anything through My goodness upon earth, I will make it sure and ratify it in Heaven." This gave great comfort to Gertrude who was still humbled that her beloved Lord would give her such Graces.
At times though Gertrude wondered if these visions would impact on man as she would wish for as she knew people were weak and prey to sin, but our Lord answered her misgivings with this response, "I have so planted my grace in you, that I expect it will bear Me immense fruit; therefore it is My desire that all those who receive similar favors, and who despise them by their negligence, shall learn from you on what conditions I have given them these gifts, in order that My grace may be increased in them in proportion as their gratitude increases. But should there be any sufficiently malicious to defame the sanctity of these works, the penalty of their sin shall fall on themselves, and you will not be accountable for it. For the Prophet Ezekiel has said from Me: 'I will lay a stumbling block before him; that is to say, I dispose, permit, and even command many things for the salvation of My elect, although they are a subject of scandal to the reprobate."
One day as Gertrude lay sick in bed our Lady visited her and comforted her with these words, "As you never remember to have endured more severe corporal sufferings than those caused by your illness, know also that you have never received from my Son more noble gifts than those which will now be given to you, and for which your sufferings have prepared you." Our Lord also encouraged Gertrude with these words to console her during her illness, "This sickness which you suffer will sanctify your soul, so that each time you go forth from Me, like the stream which I have shown you, for the good of your neighbor, either in thought, word, or act, even then, as the purity of the crystal renders the color of the gold and the rose more brilliant, so the cooperation of the precious gold of My Divinity, and the rose of the perfect patience of My Humanity, will render your works always agreeable to me by the purity of your intention." Gertrude thus understood that though the world may despise illness, God instead treasured each one's suffering as true gift to Him through the suffering of our Lord and Savior.
As Gertrude was about to receive Communion our Lord instructed Gertrude on receiving His Body and His Blood in this manner, "If you will not look with the eyes of your soul on the many mercies which I have bestowed on you, open at least the eyes of your body, and behold Me before you enclosed in a little pyx, and know assuredly that the rigor of My justice is even thus limited within the bounds of the mercy which I exercise toward men in the dispensation of this Sacrament. Consider in how small a space I give you My entire Divinity and My Humanity. Compare the size of this with the size of the human body, and judge then the greatness of My love. For as the human body surpasses my Body in size - that is to say, the quantity of the species of bread under which My Body is contained - so My mercy and charity in this Sacrament reduce Me to this state, that the soul which loves Me is in some sort above Me, as the human body is greater than My Body."
One day after she had received Communion Gertrude offered the Host for the souls in Purgatory, Our Lord then replied to her, "It is not easy for everyone to approach a king who remains always in his palace; but when his love for his queen induces him to go forth, then all may behold, through her kindness, his pomp and magnificence; thus, when, moved by My love, I visit one of the faithful (who is free from mortal sin) in the Sacrament of the Altar, all who are in Heaven, on earth, or in Purgatory, receives immense benefits thereby." Once again upon requesting that some souls maybe released from Purgatory Gertrude tried to divide the Host into small particles within her mouth to designate the number of souls thus released Our Lord then revealed to Gertrude His immense Mercy with these words, "In order that you may know that My mercy is above all My works, and that the abyss of My mercy cannot be exhausted, I am ready to grant you, through the merit of this life - giving Sacrament, more than you dare ask Me."
Gertrude was to receive many more visits from our Lord and Lady and upon Order she was to write all her revelations in a book so that all may learn the wonders of our Lord and His Sacred Heart.
I would encourage all to read more about the revelations given to St. Gertrude the Great.
Peace of Christ to ALL
Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.