Written by Herself
"You have licked the dust with My enemies
and you have sucked honey amidst thorns.
But return now to Me.
I will receive you,
and inebriate you
with the torrent of My celestial delights."
-- Words of Christ to Saint Gertrude
Ch. 4 --
Ch. 5 --
Ch. 6 --
Ch. 7 --
Ch. 8 --
Ch. 9 --
Ch. 10 --
Ch. 11. 12.
-- Ch. 13. 14. -- Ch. 15. 16. -- Ch. 17. 18. 19. -- Ch. 20. 21. -- Ch. 22. 23. -- Ch. 24. --
Book 3. Compiled by the religious of her convent. Ch. 1. 2. 3. ---- Ch. 4. 5. --
Book 3. Compiled by the Religious of Her Monastery. Chapters 1-72.
Books 4 - 5. Ch. 1-61. Book 5: Ch. 1-30
The Saint's thanksgiving to God for the first grace
vouchsafed to her, by which her mind was withdrawn
from earthly things and united to Him.
LET the Abyss of Uncreated Wisdom invoke the Abyss of Omnipotent Power to praise and extol the amazing charity which, by an excess of Thine infinite mercy, O most sweet God of my life and only Love of my soul, hast led Thee through a desert, pathless and dry land, that is, through the many obstacles I have placed to Thy mercy, to descend into the valley of my miseries.
I was in the twenty-sixth year of my age when, on the Monday before the Feast of the Purification of Thy most chaste Mother, in a happy hour, after Compline, at the close of day, Thou the true Light, who art clearer than any light and yet deeper than any recess, having resolved to dissipate the obscurity of my darkness, didst sweetly and gently commence my conversion by appeasing the trouble which Thou hadst excited in my soul for more than a month, which Thou didst deign to use, as I believe, to destroy the fortress of vain-glory and curiosity which my pride had raised up within me, although I bore the name and habit of a religious to no purpose. But Thou didst will to use this means, that Thou mightest thereby show me Thy salvation.
Being, then, in the middle of our dormitory, at the hour I have named and having inclined to an elderly religious, according to our rule, on raising my head I beheld Thee, my most loving Love and my Redeemer, surpassing in beauty the children of men, under the form of a youth of sixteen years, beautiful and amiable and attracting my heart and my eyes by the infinite light of Thy glory, which Thou hadst the goodness to proportion to the weakness of my nature. Standing before me, Thou didst utter these words, full of tenderness and sweetness: "Thy salvation is at hand. Why art thou consumed with grief? Hast thou no counsellor, that thou art so changed by sadness?" When Thou hadst spoken thus, although I knew that I stood corporally in the place I have mentioned, it seemed to me, nevertheless, that I was in our choir, in the corner where I had been accustomed to offer up my tepid prayers and that there I heard these words: "I will save thee. I will deliver thee, fear not." After I had heard them, I saw Thee place Thy right hand in mine, as if to ratify Thy promise.
Then I heard Thee speak thus: "You have licked the dust with My enemies, and you have sucked honey amidst thorns. But return now to Me. I will receive you, and inebriate you with the torrent of My celestial delights." When Thou hadst said these words, my soul melted within me. As I desired to approach Thee, I beheld between Thee and me, I mean, from Thy right hand to my left hand, a hedge of such prodigious length, that I could see no end to it, either before or behind. The top of it appeared so set with thorns that I could find no way to return to Thee, Thou only consolation of my soul. Then I paused to weep over my faults and crimes, which were doubtless figured by this hedge which divided us. In the ardour of the desires with which I desired Thee, and in my weakness, O charitable Father of the poor, "whose mercies are over all Thy works," Thou didst take me by the hand, and placed me near Thee instantly, without difficulty, so that, casting my eyes upon the precious Hand which Thou hadst extended to me as a pledge of Thy promises, I recognized, O sweet Jesus, Thy radiant wounds, which have made of no effect the handwriting that was against us.
By these and other illuminations Thou didst enlighten and soften my mind, detaching me powerfully, by an interior unction, from an inordinate love of literature and from all my vanities, so that I only despised those things which had formerly pleased me. All that was not thee, O God of my heart, appeared vile to me. Thou alone wert pleasing to my soul. I praise, bless, adore, and thank from my inmost soul, as far as I am able, but not as far as I ought, Thy wise mercy and Thy merciful wisdom, that Thou, my Creator and Redeemer, didst endeavor in so loving a manner to submit my unconquerable self-opiniatedness to the sweetness of Thy yoke, composing a beverage suitable to my temperament, which has infused new light into my soul, so that I began to run after the odor of Thy ointments. Thy yoke became sweet and Thy burden light, though a little while before they had appeared hard and almost unbearable.
How the grace of God illuminated her interiorly.
Hail, Salvation and Light of my soul! May all that is in heaven, in earth, and in the abyss, return thanks to Thee for the extraordinary grace which has led my soul to know and consider what passes within my heart, of which I had no more care formerly than, if I may so speak, of what passes within my hands or feet. But after the infusion of Thy most sweet light, I saw many things in my heart which offended Thy purity. I even perceived that all within me was in such disorder and confusion that Thou couldst not abide therein.
Nevertheless, my most loving Jesus, neither all these defects, nor all my unworthiness, prevented Thee from honouring me with Thy visible presence nearly every day that I received the life-giving nourishment of Thy Body and Thy Blood, although I only beheld Thee indistinctly, as one who sees at dawn. Thou didst endeavor by this sweet compliance to attract my soul, so that it might be entirely united to Thee, and that I might know Thee better and enjoy thee more fully. As I disposed myself to labour for the obtaining of these favours on the Feast of the Annunciation of Thy Mother, when Thou didst ally Thyself with our nature in her virginal womb --Thou who saidest, "Here I am, before I called thee" --Thou didst anticipate this day by pouring forth on me, unworthy though I am, on the Vigil of the feast, the sweetness of Thy benediction, at Chapter, which was held after Matins, on account of the Sunday following.
Since it is not possible for me to describe in what manner thou didst visit me, O Orient from on high, in the bowels of Thy mercy and sweetness, permit me, O Giver of gifts, to immolate a sacrifice of Thanksgiving to Thee on the altar of my heart, in order to obtain for myself and for all Thine elect the blessedness of experiencing frequently this union of sweetness and this sweetness of union, which before this time was utterly unknown to me. When I reflect on the kind of life which I led formerly, and which I have led since, I protest in truth that it is a pure effect of Thy grace, which Thou hast given me without any merit of mine.
Thou didst give me from henceforward a more clear knowledge of Thyself, which was such that the sweetness of Thy love led me to correct my faults far more, than the fear of the punishments with which Thy just anger threatened me. I do not remember ever to have enjoyed so great happiness at any other time, as during these days of which I speak, in which Thou didst invite me to the delights of Thy royal table. I know not for certain whether it is Thy wise Providence which has deprived me of them, or whether it is my negligence which has drawn on me this chastisement.
Of the pleasure which God took
in making His abode in the soul of Gertrude.
While Thou didst act so lovingly toward me, and didst not cease to draw my soul from vanity and to Thyself, it happened upon a certain day, between the Festival of the Resurrection and the Ascension, that I went into the court before Prime, and seated myself near the fountain. I began to consider the beauty of the place, which charmed me on account of the clear and flowing stream, the verdure of the trees which surrounded it, and the flight of the birds and particularly of the doves, above all, the sweet calm, apart from all and considering within myself what would make this place most useful to me, I thought that it would be the friendship of a wise and intimate companion, who would sweeten my solitude or render it useful to others, when Thou, my Lord and my God, who art a torrent of inestimable pleasure, after having inspired me with the first impulse of this desire, Thou didst will to be also the end of it, inspiring me with the thought that if by continual gratitude I return Thy graces to Thee, as a stream returns to its source, if, increasing in the love of virtue, I put forth, like the trees, the flowers of good works, furthermore, if despising the things of earth, I fly upwards, freely, like the birds, and thus free my senses from the distraction of exterior things, my soul would then be empty, and my heart would be an agreeable abode for Thee.
As I was occupied with the recollection of these things during the same day, having knelt after Vespers for my evening prayer before retiring to rest, this passage of the Gospel came suddenly to my mind: "If any man love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make Our abode with him. " (John xiv, 23). At these words my worthless heart perceived Thee, O my most sweet God and my delight, present therein. Oh, that all the waters of the sea were changed into blood, that I might pass them over my head, and thus wash away my exceeding vileness, which Thou hast chosen for Thine abode! Or that my heart might be torn this moment from my body and cast into a furnace, that it might be purified from its dross, and made at least less unworthy of Thy presence! Thou my God, since that hour, hast treated me sometimes with sweetness and sometimes with severity, as I have amended or been negligent, although, to speak the truth, when the most perfect amendment which I could attain, even for a moment, should have lasted my whole life, it could not merit to obtain for me the most trifling or the least condescending of the graces which I have ever received from Thee, so great are my crimes and sins.
The excess of Thy goodness obliges me to believe that the sight of my faults rather moves Thee to fear Thou wilt see me perish than to excite Thine anger, making me know that Thy patience in supporting my defects until now, with so much goodness, is greater than the sweetness with which Thou didst bear with the perfidious Judas during Thy mortal life. Although my mind takes pleasure in wandering after and in distracting itself with perishable things, yet, after some hours, after some days, and, alas! I must add, after whole weeks, when I return into my heart, I find Thee there. I cannot complain that Thou hast left me even for a moment, from that time until this year, which is the ninth since I received this grace, except once, when I perceived that Thou didst leave me for the space of eleven days, before the Feast of St. John Baptist, and it appeared to me that this happened on account of a worldly conversation the Thursday preceding. Thy absence lasted until the Vigil of St. John, when the Mass Ne timeas, Zacharia, is said. Then Thy sweetest humanity and Thy stupendous charity moved Thee to seek me, when I had reached such a pitch of madness, that I thought no more of the greatness of the treasure I had lost, and for the loss of which I do not remember to have felt any grief at that time, nor even to have had the desire of recovering it.
I cannot now be sufficiently amazed at the mania which possessed my soul, unless, indeed, it was, that Thou didst desire me to know by my own experience what St. Bernard said: "When we fly from Thee, Thou pursuest us, when we turn our backs, Thou dost present Thyself before us; when we despise Thee, Thou dost entreat us; and there is neither insult nor contempt which hinders Thee from labouring unweariedly to bring us to the attainment of that which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and which the heart of man cannot comprehend."
As Thou didst bestow on me Thy first graces without any merit on my part, so now that I have had a second relapse, which is worse than the first, and renders me yet more unworthy to receive Thee, Thou hast deigned to give me the joy of Thy presence without interruption, until this very hour, for which be praise and thanksgiving to Thee as the Source of all good. That it may please Thee to preserve this precious grace in me, I offer Thee that excellent prayer which Thou didst utter with such amazing fervour when sweating blood in agony, and which the burning love of Thy Divinity, and Thy pure devotion rendered so efficacious; beseeching Thee, by virtue of this most perfect prayer, to draw and unite me entirely to Thyself, that I may remain inseparably attached to Thee, even when I am obliged to attend to exterior duties for the good of my neighbour, and that afterwards I may return again to seek Thee within me, when I have accomplished them for Thy glory in the most perfect manner possible, even as the winds, when agitated by a tempest, return again to their former calm when it has ceased, that Thou mayest find me as zealous in labouring for Thee as Thou hast been assiduous in helping me, and that by this means, Thou mayest elevate me to the highest degree of perfection to which Thy justice can permit Thy mercy to raise so carnal and rebellious a creature, so that Thou mayest receive my soul into Thy hands when I breathe my last sigh, and conduct it with a kiss of peace where Thou dwellest, who reignest indivisibly and eternally with the Father and the Holy Spirit for endless ages. Amen.
Of the stigmatas imprinted in the heart of Gertrude
and her exercises in honour of the Five Wounds
Short Biography of Saint Gertrude
Gertrude the Great: Wikipedia.
St. Gertrude the Great, by Gilbert Dolan, 1913.
St. Gertrude: Iconography.
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