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St. Gertrude the Great

Hail illustrious lily of the ever-peaceful and glorious Trinity
Hail, effulgent rose, the delight of Heaven



Chaplet of St. Gertrude to Release Souls in Purgatory

The Chaplet of Saint Gertrude is prayed on a standard 5-decade Rosary.

Method of Prayer:

Beginning at the Cross, pray:
Apostle's Creed

On the first large bead, pray:
Our Father

On the three small beads, pray:
3x Hail Mary, followed by
Glory be

On the five pendant beads, pray:
Our Father
3x Hail Mary
Glory be

Starting on the next large bead, and on the remaining large beads, pray:
Our Father

On each of the small beads (of each decade), say the following prayer:
Eternal Father,
I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus,
in union with the Masses said throughout the world today,
for all the holy souls in Purgatory,
for sinners in the universal Church,
those in my own home,
and within my family.



Little Crown of St. Gertrude

composed by A. Calabro & M. Kadala,
with the prayers of St. Gertrude the Great

As Gertrude prayed, the Mother of God appeared to her, in the presence of the ever-adorable Trinity, under the form of a white lily, with three leaves, one standing errect, and the other two bent down. By this she understood that it was not without reason that the Blessed Mother of God was called white lily of the Trinity, since She contained in herself, with more plenitude and perfection than any other creature, the virtues of the Most Holy Trinity, which she had never sullied by the slightest stain of sin. The upright leaf of the lily represented the omnipotence of God the Father, and the two leaves which bent down, the wisdom and love of the Son and the Holy Spirit, to which the Virgin approaches so nearly.

Then the Blessed Virgin made known to her that if anyone salutes Her devoutly as the white lily of the Trinity and vermilon rose of Heaven, She will show how She prevails by the omnipotence of the Father, how skillful She is in procuring the salvation of men by the wisdom of the Son, and with what exceeding love her heart is filled by the charity of the Holy Ghost.

The Blessed Virgin added these words: I will appear at the hour of death to those who salute me thus in such glory, that they will anticipate the very joys of Heaven.

From this time the Saint frequently saluted the Holy Virgin or her images with these words:

Hail illustrious lily of the ever-peaceful and glorious Trinity!
Hail, effulgent rose, the delight of Heaven,
of whom the King of Heaven was born and
by whose milk He was nourished!
Feed our souls by the effusions of your Divine influences."

[God revealed to St. Gertrude that those who should thank him for the graces bestowed upon her would participate in her merits, and would obtain their petition provided it were for their eternal welfare.]


Method of Prayer:

Beginning on the pendant, pray:
I come to Your feet, most loving Father. Behold, sins have made a separation between You and me. Have mercy on me according to the multitude of Your mercy, break down the wall of my old way of life which keeps me from You; and draw me so vehemently toward You that I may, in the gentleness of Your inextinguishable cherishing-love, wisely follow You.

On the introductory bead, pray:
Hail, White Lily, of the ever-peaceful and glorious Trinity!
Hail, Vermilion Rose, the delight of Heaven, of whom the King
of Heaven was born and by whose milk He was nourished!
Feed our souls with the effusions of your Divine influences.

On the centerpiece, pray:
You filled the heart of St. Gertrude with the presence of your love.  Bring light into our darkness and let us experience the joy of your presence and the power of your grace.

On each of the ten small beads, pray:
Glory  be ...

Returning to the centerpiece, in conclusion, pray:
[Optional: 3x Hail Mary]
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Additional Prayers

St. Gertrude the Great

Most chaste Virgin Mary, by the spotless purity with which you prepared for the Son of God a dwelling of delight in your virginal womb, I beg of you to intercede for me that I may be cleansed from every stain.
Most humble Virgin Mary, by that most profound humility by which you deserved to be raised high above all the choirs of angels and saints, I beg of you to intercede for me that all my sins may be expiated.
Most amiable Mary, by that indescribable love that united you so closely and inseparably to God, I beg of you to intercede for me that I may obtain an abundance of all merits. Amen.


My Queen, My Mother!  I give you all myself, and to show my devotion to thee,
I consecrate to you my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my entire self. Wherefore, O loving Mother, as I am your own, keep me, defend me, as your property and possession.

Loving-kind Jesus, although the will to do what is good is in me, I do not find the strength to accomplish it. Therefore, turn my soul from the frailty of the human condition toward You in such a way that I may untiringly run the way of Your commandments and cling inseparably to you.
O most sweet Lord Jesus Christ, I praise, extol and bless You, and I give You thanks for all the graces You lavished on Your beloved spouse, St. Gertrude.  I recall to You now, most compassionate Jesus, your promise to most assuredly grant the prayers of all who come to You through her merits and intercession, in all matters concerning their salvation. I beseech You, by Your most tender love, to grant me the grace [mention your petition] which I confidently expect.

Three Hail Marys

During an apparition to St. Gertrude, the Blessed Mother promised, "To any soul who faithfully prays the Three Hail Marys I will appear at the hour of death in a splendor of beauty so extraordinary that it will fill that soul with heavenly consolation." 

Our Lady requested the daily recitation of three Hail Marys, and She revealed the following to St. Mechtilde:

The first Hail Mary will be in honor of God the Father... Whose omnipotence raised my soul to high above every other creature that, after God, I have the greatest power in Heaven and on earth. In the hour of your death I will use that power of God the Father to keep any hostile power far from you.

The second Hail Mary will be in honor of God the Son... Who communicated His inscrutable wisdom to me. In the hour of your death I will fill your soul with the light of that wisdom so that all the darkness of ignorance and error will be dispelled.

The third Hail Mary will be in honor of God the Holy Spirit... Who filled my soul with the sweetness of His love and tenderness and mercy. In your last hour I will then change the bitterness of death into Divine sweetness and delight.


Saint Gertrude The Great

Saint Gertrude was born January 6, 1256 in Germany. By 1261 as a student at the Benedictine abbey at Helfta in Saxony she had been placed in the care of the Abess, Gertrude. The nuns of Helfta described Gertrude as a loveable and quick-witted. At the age of 15 or 16 she entered the Benedictine community as a novice, where she eventually became a teacher at the school. Gertrude was not very pious as a nun. She began to find the routine of the Bendictine community tiresome. By 1280 she had become depressed and withdrawn.

Shortly after her 25 birthday Jesus spoke to Gertrude. She tells us that she heard Christ say to her, "Do not fear. I will save you and set you free." This was the first in a series of visions that transformed her life. From then on, she spent many hours reading the bible and writing essays on the word of God. When she was asked to write about her experiences, she claimed that it would serve no purpose. When she was told that her words would encourage others, Gertrude agreed to write spiritual autobiography. Only the first 24 chapters of this book, THE HERALD OF GOD'S LOVING-KINDNESS, is her writing. The remainder has been added by members of the community to which she belonged Gertrude also wrote her SPIRITUAL EXERCISES, a book of prayers, hymns and reflections. St. Gertrude is one of the leading women religious writers of the late 13th century. Outwardly, she appeared to be a the simple Benedictine nun. She had a great devotion to the Holy Souls in purgatory. Her raptures were frequent and so absorbing that she was insensible to what passed around her. She had the gift of miracles well as that of prophecy.

During one of her visions Jesus told ST. Gertrude that the following prayer would release 1000 souls from purgatory each time it is said:

'Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most precious blood of thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family’

Approval and Recommendation by Cardinal Pahiarca, Lisbon, Portugal, March 4, 1936.

If one prays the entire St. Gertrude Chaplet (above), which is said on an ordinary rosary, Our Lord releases 50,000 souls from purgatory each time it is said!
How easy it would be to empty out purgatory if we each prayed this form of the rosary just once a day!

~ Sisters of Embracement

Saint Gertrude was born in Germany on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1256. Beyond this one fact of her birth, we know nothing of the first five years of her life. But in 1261 Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn, of the Benedictine abbey at Helfta in Saxony, admitted the child as a pupil in their school.

No family name is recorded for Gertrude, and no reason is given for this omission. Some have speculated that she was a child oblate offered to the Church by devout parents. However, in her writings, Gertrude refers to herself as an orphan. She may have been displaced during the political chaos and civil strife of her time. Or she could have been disowned because of some other event or circumstance hidden in the history of the thirteenth century. For whatever reason, Gertrude was placed in the care of Abbess Gertrude. Mechtilde of Hackeborn, younger sister of the abbess, was the teacher when Gertrude joined a small group of children at the abbey school.

The nuns of Helfta have left us their memories of Gertrude as a loveable, quick-witted child who responded immediately to the gracious disposition of Mechtilde and later chose her as a confidante. Throughout her school years, she proved to have such clarity of perception and depth of understanding that she often surpassed her classmates in her studies. The curriculum at the convent school was strong, and the students were challenged to learn grammar, rhetoric, logic, and Latin. Gertrude also revealed a knowledge of music and practical arts like spinning and weaving.

Although we don't know the reason why Gertrude was brought to Helfta, we do know that Gertrude entered the community upon completion of her studies at age 15 or 16. As a novice in the Benedictine community, she received instruction in liturgy, scripture, the Rule of Benedict, patristic and other spiritual writers of the monastic tradition. After making her monastic profession, she applied herself to the study of literature and directed much of her energy to writing fluent Latin and German. She was strong in character and personality and, as a teacher in the school, became a life-giving presence in the community which numbered about 100 women during her lifetime.

The Helfta community did not regard Gertrude as an overly pious young woman. And Gertrude confides that she was so engrossed in her studies that she may have neglected her spiritual calling. By the time she was 24, she was beginning to find the routines of the monastery tiresome. During the Advent season of 1280, she endured a severe trial of emotional storm and spiritual distress which left her depressed and withdrawn. Shortly after her 25 birthday, on January 27, 1281, Gertrude experienced a sudden and unexpected encounter with the risen Christ, which she calls her "conversion." In her deepest heart she heard Christ say to her, "Do not fear. I will save you and set you free." This was the first in a series of visions which led her into mystical prayer and ultimately transformed her life. She decided to give up her literary studies and devote herself to prayer and the study of scripture. From then on, she spent many hours reading and copying texts of scripture and sometimes writing short reflections on the word of God to share with others.

In 1289, Gertrude heard Christ ask her to write an account of the many graces she had received. At first Gertrude resisted, believing that it would serve no purpose. When she was told that such writing might serve to encourage others, she consented. In Latin, Gertrude wrote a short spiritual autobiography to which the Helfta community later added all the information they had about her. This composite is known today as THE HERALD OF GOD'S LOVING-KINDNESS. Only the 24 chapters of Book Two of THE HERALD are Gertrude's own writing in which she witnessed to the spiritual transformation she had experienced. Carefully, Gertrude describes her awakening to the depths of her own heart. This awakening made Christ so real for her that she was able to overcome all resistance within herself and gradually move toward unconditional surrender to God's love. There is little of conscious art in this book as Gertrude pours out the praise and gratitude she feels in beautiful scriptural images that arise spontaneously from within her heart.

Gertrude also wrote her SPIRITUAL EXERCISES in Latin some time after 1289. We presume that she intended this thematic arrangement of prayers, hymns, and reflections for the nuns of her community. Gertrude herself used portions of them for her own yearly spiritual renewal. She also may have adapted them for persons who came to her for counsel. But the importance of the SPIRITUAL EXERCISES extends to the present day because they are grounded in themes and rites of Church liturgy for occasions of Baptism, conversion, commitment, discipleship, union with God, praise of God, and preparation for death. Gertrude's SPIRITUAL  EXERCISES may be used by anyone who seeks to deepen spirituality through prayer and meditation.

St. Gertrude belongs to the late 13th century monastic culture and may be the leading woman writer and visionary of that culture. She is among those special voices from the past that address all Christians now at the dawn of the third millennium. She recalls us to a new awareness of God's unconditional love for all creatures in the saving mission of Jesus. For us, she represents a serious and mature Christian spirituality essentially based in the scriptures and nurtured in the liturgy. Gertrude's understanding of God's love is anchored in the mystery of the mutual love between the Persons of the Blessed Trinity, which is forever directed toward all creation.

Gertrude's mystical prayer is Christ-centered and the humanity of Christ is imaged as the Sacred Heart, the divine treasury of grace. Never does she lose sight of Jesus who comes as both divine and human. But for Gertrude, the focus on the mystery of Jesus turns less on his historical life and more on the humanity he shares with all humans. Her emphasis is not so much that we should imitate Jesus, but that we are invited to participate in a human-divine union that already is. In prayer and sacrament, we encounter this blessed union.

In her mystical prayer, Gertrude experiences in the Church an intense love of the Eucharist, a loving embrace of the sinner, friendship for the outcast, and an enduring trust in God's mercy. As Gertrude matured, her eyes opened to the mystery of Christ's love in the Church and to its evangelizing mission in the world.

Gertrude was never formally canonized, but a liturgical office of prayer, readings, and hymns in her honor was approved by Rome in 1606. The Feast of St. Gertrude was extended to the universal Church by Clement XII in 1738 and today is celebrated on November 16, the date of her death in 1301 or 1302.  Pope Benedict XIV gave her the title "the Great" to distinguish her from Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn and to recognize the depth of her spiritual and theological insight.

O God of love and gentleness,
O heart that abounds with loving kindness,
O heart that overflows with charity,
O heart that radiates pleasantness,
O heart full of compassion,
We thank you for your heart full of love for us.
Invite us into your heart that we may be totally transformed into love.

Adapted by Sister Ruth Fox, OSB, from Exercises of St. Gertrude, VII

 ~ Federation of St. Gertrude

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