Virgin (c.1240 - 1298)
Born in the Castle of Helfa, near Eisleben, Saxony, to one of the noblest families of Thuringia, St. Mechtilde, at 7, entered the Benedictine Convent at Rodensdorf __ where her elder sister, Gertrude Hackeborn was already a nun. Under the tutelage of Gertrude, Mechtilde made rapid strides in virtue and learning. On account of her humility, piety and zeal she was appointed, when still relatively young, to direct the novitiate and the choir, and as such she became the first teacher of St Gertrude the Great when the latter was placed in her convent at the age of 5.
Though constantly subject to physical suffering, Mechtilde was ever intent upon joyfully singing the divine praise, and such is the key-note of the Book of Special Grace, in which St. Gertrude and another sister-nun secretly (initially) set down the supernatural favours which God granted to Mechtilde.
In his revelation Our Lord used to address her as his "Nightingale", and he favoured her with such spiritual insight and mystical experiences that learned Dominicans were sent to consult her on spiritual matters. Through these Friar Preachers Mechtilde's book of revelations was widely distributed after her death. Incidentally, the book is structured on the ecclesiastical year; it is liturgical, Trinitarian and Christo-centric. It was, according to Boccaccio, very popular in Florence in Dante's time under the title of the Lauds of Donna Matilda and devout Florentines used to recite divine praises from the book during devotions at family shrines.
Together with St. Gertrude the Great, St. Mechtilde is one of the first to have stressed on devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. "When you awake in the morning, let your first act be to salute my Heart and to offer me your own," our Lord once urged Mechtilde.
St. Mechtilde breathed her last at the Helfa monastery on 19 November c. 1298.
Reflection :"It gives me real pleasure when men hope for great things from me, and I will always grant them more than they expect" (Our Lord to St. Mechtilde).