Today is the feast day of Saint Mechtilde. Ora pro nobis.
Saint Mechtilde was born about the year 1240, a countess and a cousin of the German Emperor. She belonged to one of the noblest and most powerful Thuringian families, while her sister was the saintly and illustrious Saint Gertrude.
But at the age of seven she entered a convent school and henceforth lived only for the King of Kings. She soon became an unusually learned nun, capable of writing elegantly in Latin, and she had such a lovely voice that she was made choir mistress of her convent and became known as the “Nightingale of Christ.” But above all, she excelled in pure, ardent, soaring devotion to her beloved Saviour and His glorious Mother.
One day she begged Our Lord to teach her how to greet the Blessed Virgin, and He then gave her this touching tribute to the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
“If you wish to please My Mother; hail her Virginal Heart in the abundance of all the good things of which it is an abyss for mortals. Hail that heart in its purity, which inspired Mary to take the hitherto unprecedented vow of perpetual virginity. Hail it in its humility, which most of all made her find grace before God and made her worthy of conceiving by the Holy Ghost. Hail it in its ardent longing, by which she had the power of drawing Me into her womb. Hail it in its great charity for God and men. Hail it in its extreme fidelity in keeping grace and in remembering all that I did and said during My childhood and all My life. Hail it in the compassion with which she shared in all My sufferings, which cruelly pierced and tore her soul. Hail it in her submission to the will of God,that submission by which she consented to sacrifice Me, her only beloved Son, for the salvation of the world. Hail it in the very motherly solicitude with which she unceasingly prayed for the infant Church. And finally, hail it in her continuous prayers by which, through her merits, she obtains for human beings all the graces which are given to them.”
On another occasion, when the Mother of God herself appeared to St. Mechtilde, the Saint asked her how she could honor her, and Mary replied:
“Remind me of the joy which I experienced when the Son of God left the bosom of His Father in order to come into my womb. Rejoice with me again in the ineffable bliss with which I was filled when that same Son was born of me, and when I saw Him and pressed Him in my arms as a Mother.”
One Saturday, during a Mass in Our Lady’s honor, Mechtilde exclaimed: “O most gracious Queen of Heaven, I would love to greet thee with the most pleasing salutation which has ever been addressed to thee!”
At once Mary appeared to her with these words written on her Immaculate Heart in letters of gold: “HAIL MARY, FULL OF GRACE! THE LORD IS WITH THEE!” And she said to the Saint: “No creature has ever said anything that was more pleasing to me, nor will anyone ever be able to find or say to me anything that pleases me more.”
One day when Saint Mechtilde was reproaching herself for not having loved the Blessed Virgin Mary enough, Jesus appeared to her and said:
“For this fault, and in order to make reparation for it, first praise and honor My Mother for the faithfulness with which, in all her actions and throughout her life, she submitted her will to Mine; secondly, praise and honor the readiness with which she attended to all My physical needs and with which she had compassion in her heart for all that I had to endure in My Body; and thirdly, exalt her for her devotion to Me in Heaven, by means of which she draws sinners to Me, converts them to Me, and frees from the sufferings and flames of Purgatory a multitude of souls, for whom her intercession and her powerful intervention more quickly open the realms where they will glorify Me for all eternity.”
Once when St. Mechtilde had committed some slight fault, Our Lady showed herself to the Saint with a stern face and threatened her with a “golden whip”, lest the nun repeat her fault. However, the Saint was given to understand that the gold of the whip symbolized Mary’s kindness and love. In this connection also, Mechtilde once heard Jesus say to Mary: “Remember; My beloved Mother; that for thy sake I am indulgent to sinners, and I regard my elect (Mechtilde) as if she had served thee all her life with devotion.” Whereupon Mary lovingly gave herself entirely to the Saint, for Jesus’ sake.
During Mass on the Feast of the Assumption, Saint Mechtilde had the following vision: she beheld the Blessed Virgin Mary extending her mantle as if to receive beneath its shelter all those who fled to her patronage. Then the holy Angels brought and presented to her, as fair young virgins to their mother, all who had prepared themselves very fervently for this Feast, meanwhile protecting them from evil spirits and inciting them to good deeds. Then there appeared a number of little animals, representing sinners who devoutly pray to Mary; and she received them with great charity and covered them too with her mantle. At the Elevation, Our Divine Lord Himself blessed all who assisted at Holy Mass with special devotion toward His Mother in her glorious Assumption, so that they were strengthened in their good desires.
When St. Mechtilde was dying, she prayed very earnestly to Mary for the nuns of her Community, and the Blessed Virgin took the Saint’s hand in hers, indicating that she accepted from her the charge of the convent. Then Our Lord placed on Mechtilde a necklace of marvelous beauty, sparkling like gems, representing the glory of eternity in His Heavenly Kingdom.
Saint Mechtilde died on November 19, and though never officially canonized she is considered a Saint, and her feast is permitted in Benedictine convents on November 16.
Kloster Helfta: http://www.kloster-helfta.de/cms/history/index.html
Research by REGINA Staff.
ST. MECHTILDIS, Liber specialis gratiae; ST. GERTRUDIS, Legatus divine pictatis; Preface to Revelationes Gertrudianae ac Mechtildinae, I, II (Paris and Poitiers, 1875); LEDOS, Ste. Gertrude (Paris, 1907); ZIEGELBAUER, Hist. Lit. Bened. (Vienna, 1754); PREGER, Gesch. Deutsch. Mystik. I (Leipzig, 1874); Revelations de S. Mechtilde (Paris and Poitiers, 1909