St. Gertrude was born in Eisleben, Germany in 1256. As a five year old, she was received into the monastery of the Cistercian nuns in Helfta. She was an intellectually gifted student with a gentle disposition who applied herself to her studies, concentrating on literature and philosophy.
At the age of 26, Gertrude had the first of many visions of Jesus which brought about a deep interior conversion, drawing her into the innermost recesses of His Sacred Heart. Her heart symbolically united in a vision to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, she was a precursor of the later devotion to the Sacred Heart. She also advocated frequent reception of the Eucharist and devotion to St Joseph.
Similar to other mystics, such as St. Teresa of Avila, the Passion of Christ was her favorite devotion and when she meditated on it, or on the blessed Eucharist, she was often unable to control the torrents of tears which flowed from her eyes. She frequently went into ecstasy when she meditated or focused on the great love of Christ and united her heart with His.
On one occasion, Jesus, appeared to Gertrude in a vision and pointed out to her the wound in his side, out of which flowed a stream of crystal-clear water. The heart of Christ seemed to her to be suspended like a lamp in her own heart. She heard it throbbing with His unconditional, redemptive love for both saint and sinner.
In her short book of "Divine Insinuations, or Communications and Sentiments of Love," she proposed exercises for the renewal of baptismal vows, by which the soul completely renounces the world and herself, consecrates herself to the pure love of God, abandoning herself entirely to His holy will.
When in a vision the Lord asked Gertrude whether she would prefer health or sickness, she responded, "Divine Lord, give me whatever pleases You. Do not consider my wishes at all. I know that what You choose to send is the best for me."
Gertrude was an extraordinarily charitable person toward all those she encountered and her love for others manifested itself in tender sympathy towards the souls in purgatory. An extremely humble person, she prayed that her many spiritual gifts not be manifested outwardly to others and her request was granted. Gertrude was blessed with the gift of prophecy as well as the gift of miracles. A prolific writer, she authored five books on spirituality. However, only three of them are still in existence.
Gertrude died on November 17th, 1301 or 1302 of natural causes. She is the patron saint of nuns, travelers, and the West Indies.
Prayer of Saint Gertrude the Great
Dictated by Our Lord, to release 1000 souls from purgatory each time it is said.
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son Jesus Christ, in union with the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, 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.