St. Gertrude the Great

Nov 16

Patron Saint of Travelers, the Recently Dead, gardeners and the Mentally Ill

Saint Gertrude the Great (January 6, 1256 – November 16, 1302) was a German Benedictine nun, mystic, and theologian. As of the publication of this article (2021), she is the only female to be called “The Great.” The title is bestowed upon a person whose intellectual influence within the Church was so profound that its impact continues to echo for generations after their death.

Gertrude of Helfta was born January 6, 1256 in Eisleben, Thuringia. When she was 5 years old, she was placed into an orphanage. This is not unusual for this time period since many women often died while giving birth. She became proficient in philosophy, literature, singing and miniature painting, but noticed that something was still missing.

As often is the case in the lives of young women of deep devotion, a crisis developed within her; she was lost, lonely, and depressed. All of the plans she had made for herself began to crumble.

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