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Saint Mechtilde of Helfta

Novice Mistress of Saint Gertrude the Great


Andreas Praefcke CC

Benedictine Nun and Mystic (ca. 1207-1270)

Her life

+ Mechtilde was born to a noble Saxon family and became joined the Beguine community in Magdeburg (in modern-day Saxony-Anhalt, Germany).

+ Mechtilde’s mystical work, Flowing Light of Divinity, records her private revelations, as well as teachings on the Trinity and the end times. Some scholars believe that her writings influenced Dante’s vision of Hell in The Divine Comedy. She has the distinction of being the first mystic to write in German.

+ Throughout her life, Mechtilde suffered from various illnesses, as well as threats from those who opposed her teachings and from various Church and state authorities.

+ Around 1270, Mechtilde became a professed nun of the Cistercian monastery in Helfta, Germany. Later in her life, she would serve as the novice mistress of Saint Gertrude the Great.

+ Saint Mechtilde (who is also known as Mechtilde of Magdeburg) died in 1282. Although never formally canonized, her memory is especially celebrated by the Benedictines and Cistercians, as well as in the Church of England.

Spiritual bonus

On the 19th day of November, the Church celebrates the memory of the Prophet Obadiah. We know next to nothing about his life, aside from the fact that he lived during the 5th century before Christ. The majority of the book that bears his name announces punish for the enemies of the People of Israel.

For reflection

The soul is made of love and must ever strive to return to love. Therefore, it can never find rest nor happiness in other things. It must lose itself in love. By its very nature it must seek God, who is love.”—Saint Mechtilde of Helfta


O God, who called your handmaid blessed Mechtilde to seek you before all else, grant that, serving you, through her example and intercession, with a pure and humble heart, we may come at last to your eternal glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For a Nun)

Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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