Feast Day : November 19
Also known as: Mechtilde of Helfta
Little is known about Mechtilde’s life. She was born in Helfta, Saxony, to a noble family; according to some accounts she was a countess and cousin of the emperor. At age seven she was placed in a Benedictine convent at Rodalsdorf. She was an excellent student and learned to write fluidly in Latin. In 1261, she took charge of the five-year-old Gertrude and became her confidante and mentor. Gertrude recorded Mechtilde’s revelations and ecstasies in the Liber Specialis Gratiae (Book of special grace) of St. Mechtilde, and Legatus Divinae Pietatis (Herald of divine love), the story of Gertrude’s life. Mechtilde received the heart of Jesus. When she asked Him how to greet Mary, He told her to hail Mary’s “virginal heart.” Mary appeared numerous times to the saint, including one time when she revealed her heart inscribed with letters of gold, “Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with thee!” Mechtilde died on November 19, 1298, with Gertrude in attendance. As she lay dying, she prayed earnestly to Mary for the nuns of her convent. Mary and Jesus are said to have appeared to her, and Jesus placed about her neck a necklace of sparkling gems.