St. Gertrude the Great
Hail illustrious lily of the
ever-peaceful and glorious Trinity
Hail, effulgent rose, the delight of Heaven
Chaplet of St. Gertrude to Release Souls in Purgatory
The Chaplet of Saint Gertrude is prayed
on a standard 5-decade Rosary.
Method of Prayer:
Beginning at the Cross, pray:
On the first large bead, pray:
On the three small beads, pray:
Mary, followed by
On the five pendant beads, pray:
Starting on the next large bead, and on the remaining large beads, pray:
of the small beads
(of each decade),
say the following prayer:
I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son,
in union with the Masses said throughout the world
for all the holy souls in Purgatory,
for sinners in the universal Church,
those in my own home,
and within my family.
Little Crown of St. Gertrude
composed by A. Calabro & M. Kadala,
with the prayers of St. Gertrude the Great
As Gertrude prayed, the Mother of God
appeared to her, in the presence of the ever-adorable Trinity,
under the form of a white lily, with three leaves, one standing
errect, and the other two bent down. By this she understood that
it was not without reason that the Blessed Mother of God was
called white lily of the Trinity, since She contained in
herself, with more plenitude and perfection than any other
creature, the virtues of the Most Holy Trinity, which she had
never sullied by the slightest stain of sin. The upright leaf of
the lily represented the omnipotence of God the Father, and the
two leaves which bent down, the wisdom and love of the Son and
the Holy Spirit, to which the Virgin approaches so nearly.
Then the Blessed Virgin made known to her
that if anyone salutes Her devoutly as the white lily of the
Trinity and vermilon rose of Heaven, She will show how She
prevails by the omnipotence of the Father, how skillful She is
in procuring the salvation of men by the wisdom of the Son, and
with what exceeding love her heart is filled by the charity of
the Holy Ghost.
The Blessed Virgin added these words: I
will appear at the hour of death to those who salute me thus in
such glory, that they will anticipate the very joys of Heaven.
From this time the Saint frequently saluted
the Holy Virgin or her images with these words:
illustrious lily of the ever-peaceful and glorious Trinity!
Hail, effulgent rose, the delight of Heaven,
of whom the King of
Heaven was born and
by whose milk He was nourished!
our souls by the effusions of your Divine influences."
[God revealed to St. Gertrude that those who
should thank him for the graces bestowed upon her would
participate in her merits, and would obtain their petition
provided it were for their eternal welfare.]
Method of Prayer:
Beginning on the pendant, pray:
come to Your feet, most loving Father. Behold, sins have made a
separation between You and me. Have mercy on me according to the
multitude of Your mercy, break down the wall of my old way of
life which keeps me from You; and draw me so vehemently toward
You that I may, in the gentleness of Your inextinguishable
cherishing-love, wisely follow You.
On the introductory bead, pray:
Hail, White Lily, of the ever-peaceful and glorious Trinity!
Hail, Vermilion Rose, the delight of Heaven, of whom the King
of Heaven was born and by whose milk He was nourished!
Feed our souls with the effusions of your Divine influences.
On the centerpiece, pray:
You filled the heart of St. Gertrude
with the presence of your love.
Bring light into our darkness
and let us experience the joy of your presence
and the power of your grace.
On each of the ten small beads, pray:
Glory be ...
Returning to the centerpiece, in conclusion, pray:
[Optional: 3x Hail Mary]
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who
lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever
St. Gertrude the Great
Most chaste Virgin
Mary, by the spotless purity with which you prepared for the Son
of God a dwelling of delight in your virginal womb, I beg of you
to intercede for me that I may be cleansed from every stain.
Most humble Virgin Mary, by that most profound humility by which
you deserved to be raised high above all the choirs of angels
and saints, I beg of you to intercede for me that all my sins
may be expiated.
Most amiable Mary, by that indescribable love
that united you so closely and inseparably to God, I beg of you
to intercede for me that I may obtain an abundance of all
My Queen, My Mother!
I give you all myself, and to show
my devotion to thee,
I consecrate to you my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my
entire self. Wherefore, O loving Mother, as I am your own, keep
me, defend me, as your property and possession.
Loving-kind Jesus, although the will to do what is good is in
me, I do not find the strength to accomplish it. Therefore, turn
my soul from the frailty of the human condition toward You in
such a way that I may untiringly run the way of Your
commandments and cling inseparably to you.
O most sweet Lord Jesus Christ, I praise, extol and bless You,
and I give You thanks for all the graces You lavished on Your
beloved spouse, St. Gertrude. I recall to You now, most
compassionate Jesus, your promise to most assuredly grant the
prayers of all who come to You through her merits and
intercession, in all matters concerning their salvation. I
beseech You, by Your most tender love, to grant me the grace
[mention your petition] which I confidently expect.
Three Hail Marys
During an apparition to St.
Gertrude, the Blessed Mother promised, "To any soul who
faithfully prays the Three Hail Marys I will appear at the hour
of death in a splendor of beauty so extraordinary that it will
fill that soul with heavenly consolation."
Our Lady requested the daily
recitation of three Hail Marys, and She revealed the following
to St. Mechtilde:
The first Hail Mary will be in
honor of God the Father... Whose omnipotence raised my soul to
high above every other creature that, after God, I have the
greatest power in Heaven and on earth. In the hour of your death
I will use that power of God the Father to keep any hostile
power far from you.
The second Hail Mary will be
in honor of God the Son... Who communicated His inscrutable
wisdom to me. In the hour of your death I will fill your soul
with the light of that wisdom so that all the darkness of
ignorance and error will be dispelled.
The third Hail Mary will be in
honor of God the Holy Spirit... Who filled my soul with the
sweetness of His love and tenderness and mercy. In your last
hour I will then change the bitterness of death into Divine
sweetness and delight.
Saint Gertrude The Great
Saint Gertrude was born January 6, 1256 in Germany. By 1261
as a student at the Benedictine abbey at Helfta in Saxony she
had been placed in the care of the Abess, Gertrude. The nuns of
Helfta described Gertrude as a loveable and quick-witted. At the
age of 15 or 16 she entered the Benedictine community as a
novice, where she eventually became a teacher at the school.
Gertrude was not very pious as a nun. She began to find the
routine of the Bendictine community tiresome. By 1280 she had
become depressed and withdrawn.
Shortly after her 25 birthday Jesus spoke to Gertrude. She
tells us that she heard Christ say to her, "Do not fear. I will
save you and set you free." This was the first in a series of
visions that transformed her life. From then on, she spent many
hours reading the bible and writing essays on the word of God.
When she was asked to write about her experiences, she claimed
that it would serve no purpose. When she was told that her words
would encourage others, Gertrude agreed to write spiritual
autobiography. Only the first 24 chapters of this book, THE
HERALD OF GOD'S LOVING-KINDNESS, is her writing. The remainder
has been added by members of the community to which she belonged
Gertrude also wrote her SPIRITUAL EXERCISES, a book of prayers,
hymns and reflections. St. Gertrude is one of the leading women
religious writers of the late 13th century. Outwardly, she
appeared to be a the simple Benedictine nun. She had a great
devotion to the Holy Souls in purgatory. Her raptures were
frequent and so absorbing that she was insensible to what passed
around her. She had the gift of miracles well as that of
During one of her visions Jesus
told ST. Gertrude that the following prayer would
1000 souls from purgatory each time it is said:
'Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most precious
blood of thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses
said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls
in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the
universal church, those in my own home and within my
Approval and Recommendation by
Cardinal Pahiarca, Lisbon, Portugal, March 4, 1936.
If one prays the entire St.
Gertrude Chaplet (above), which is said on an ordinary
rosary, Our Lord releases 50,000 souls from
purgatory each time it is said!
How easy it would be to empty out purgatory if we each
prayed this form of the rosary just once a day!
Sisters of Embracement
Saint Gertrude was born in Germany on the Feast
of the Epiphany, January 6, 1256. Beyond this one
fact of her birth, we know nothing of the first five
years of her life. But in 1261 Abbess Gertrude of
Hackeborn, of the Benedictine abbey at Helfta in
Saxony, admitted the child as a pupil in their
No family name is recorded for
Gertrude, and no reason is given for this omission.
Some have speculated that she was a child oblate
offered to the Church by devout parents. However, in
her writings, Gertrude refers to herself as an
orphan. She may have been displaced during the
political chaos and civil strife of her time. Or she
could have been disowned because of some other event
or circumstance hidden in the history of the
thirteenth century. For whatever reason, Gertrude
was placed in the care of Abbess Gertrude. Mechtilde
of Hackeborn, younger sister of the abbess, was the
teacher when Gertrude joined a small group of
children at the abbey school.
The nuns of Helfta have left us their memories of
Gertrude as a loveable, quick-witted child who
responded immediately to the gracious disposition of
Mechtilde and later chose her as a confidante.
Throughout her school years, she proved to have such
clarity of perception and depth of understanding
that she often surpassed her classmates in her
studies. The curriculum at the convent school was
strong, and the students were challenged to learn
grammar, rhetoric, logic, and Latin. Gertrude also
revealed a knowledge of music and practical arts
like spinning and weaving.
Although we don't know the reason why Gertrude
was brought to Helfta, we do know that Gertrude
entered the community upon completion of her studies
at age 15 or 16. As a novice in the Benedictine
community, she received instruction in liturgy,
scripture, the Rule of Benedict, patristic and other
spiritual writers of the monastic tradition. After
making her monastic profession, she applied herself
to the study of literature and directed much of her
energy to writing fluent Latin and German. She was
strong in character and personality and, as a
teacher in the school, became a life-giving presence
in the community which numbered about 100 women
during her lifetime.
The Helfta community did not regard Gertrude as
an overly pious young woman. And Gertrude confides
that she was so engrossed in her studies that she
may have neglected her spiritual calling. By the
time she was 24, she was beginning to find the
routines of the monastery tiresome. During the
Advent season of 1280, she endured a severe trial of
emotional storm and spiritual distress which left
her depressed and withdrawn. Shortly after her 25
birthday, on January 27, 1281, Gertrude experienced
a sudden and unexpected encounter with the risen
Christ, which she calls her "conversion." In her
deepest heart she heard Christ say to her, "Do not
fear. I will save you and set you free." This was
the first in a series of visions which led her into
mystical prayer and ultimately transformed her life.
She decided to give up her literary studies and
devote herself to prayer and the study of scripture.
From then on, she spent many hours reading and
copying texts of scripture and sometimes writing
short reflections on the word of God to share with
In 1289, Gertrude heard Christ ask her to
write an account of the many graces she had
received. At first Gertrude resisted, believing that
it would serve no purpose. When she was told that
such writing might serve to encourage others, she
consented. In Latin, Gertrude wrote a short
spiritual autobiography to which the Helfta
community later added all the information they had
about her. This composite is known today as THE
HERALD OF GOD'S LOVING-KINDNESS. Only the 24
chapters of Book Two of THE HERALD are Gertrude's
own writing in which she witnessed to the spiritual
transformation she had experienced. Carefully,
Gertrude describes her awakening to the depths of
her own heart. This awakening made Christ so real
for her that she was able to overcome all resistance
within herself and gradually move toward
unconditional surrender to God's love. There is
little of conscious art in this book as Gertrude
pours out the praise and gratitude she feels in
beautiful scriptural images that arise spontaneously
from within her heart.
Gertrude also wrote her SPIRITUAL EXERCISES
in Latin some time after 1289. We presume that she
intended this thematic arrangement of prayers,
hymns, and reflections for the nuns of her
community. Gertrude herself used portions of them
for her own yearly spiritual renewal. She also may
have adapted them for persons who came to her for
counsel. But the importance of the SPIRITUAL
EXERCISES extends to the present day because they
are grounded in themes and rites of Church liturgy
for occasions of Baptism, conversion, commitment,
discipleship, union with God, praise of God, and
preparation for death. Gertrude's SPIRITUAL
EXERCISES may be used by anyone who seeks to deepen
spirituality through prayer and meditation.
St. Gertrude belongs to the late 13th
century monastic culture and may be the leading
woman writer and visionary of that culture. She is
among those special voices from the past that
address all Christians now at the dawn of the third
millennium. She recalls us to a new awareness of
God's unconditional love for all creatures in the
saving mission of Jesus. For us, she represents a
serious and mature Christian spirituality
essentially based in the scriptures and nurtured in
the liturgy. Gertrude's understanding of God's love
is anchored in the mystery of the mutual love
between the Persons of the Blessed Trinity, which is
forever directed toward all creation.
Gertrude's mystical prayer is
Christ-centered and the humanity of Christ is imaged
as the Sacred Heart, the divine treasury of grace.
Never does she lose sight of Jesus who comes as both
divine and human. But for Gertrude, the focus on the
mystery of Jesus turns less on his historical life
and more on the humanity he shares with all humans.
Her emphasis is not so much that we should imitate
Jesus, but that we are invited to participate in a
human-divine union that already is. In prayer and
sacrament, we encounter this blessed union.
In her mystical prayer, Gertrude experiences
in the Church an intense love of the Eucharist, a
loving embrace of the sinner, friendship for the
outcast, and an enduring trust in God's mercy. As
Gertrude matured, her eyes opened to the mystery of
Christ's love in the Church and to its evangelizing
mission in the world.
Gertrude was never formally canonized, but a
liturgical office of prayer, readings, and hymns in
her honor was approved by Rome in 1606. The Feast of
St. Gertrude was extended to the universal Church by
Clement XII in 1738 and today is celebrated on
November 16, the date of her death in 1301 or 1302.
Pope Benedict XIV gave her the title "the Great" to
distinguish her from Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn
and to recognize the depth of her spiritual and
of love and gentleness,
O heart that abounds with loving kindness,
O heart that overflows with charity,
O heart that radiates pleasantness,
O heart full of compassion,
We thank you for your heart full of love for us.
Invite us into your heart
that we may be totally transformed into love.
Adapted by Sister
Ruth Fox, OSB, from Exercises of St. Gertrude, VII
Federation of St. Gertrude