St. Gertrude the Great, Nov. 16

Today is the feast of St. Gertrude the Great, c. 1256-1302.

To him who ever thought with love of me
Or ever did for my sake some good deed
I will appear, looking such charity
And kind compassion, at his life's last need
That he will out of hand and heartily
Repent he sinned and all his sins be freed.

--Gerard Manley Hopkins

Sr. Mary Jeremy Finnegan, the renowned Sinsinawa Dominican poet and scholar, noted in The Times Literary Supplement in 1952 that Hopkins was paraphrasing words Jesus spoke to Gertrude: "When I behold anyone in his agony who has thought of Me with pleasure, or who has performed any works deserving of reward, I appear to him at the moment of death with a countenance so full of love and mercy that he repents from his inmost heart for having ever offended Me, and he is saved by this repentance."

Dorothy Disse, at "Other Women's Voices," provides links to online sites about St. Gertrude, excerpts from translations of her writings in print, and information about secondary sources, including Sister Mary Jeremy's "groundbreaking work", The Women of Helfta: Scholars and Mystics, published in 1961 and re-issued in 1991.

"O Love, be Thou Thyself my Evening, that in Thee my soul, with joy and exultation, may bid my body a fond farewell, and in Thy shade my spirit, returning unto the Lord who gave it, may softly rest in peace."

--Gertrude of Helfta, Fifth Exercise

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