Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 13, 2006
St. Gertrude is the patron saint of nuns
Romanesque Missouri church honours mystic
St. Gertrude – November 16
By TED FITZGERALD
- WCR photo by Ted Fitzgerald
Two statues of St. Gertrude sits on either side of the nave in the church.
Gertrude was taken in by Cistercian nuns at their abbey of Helfta in Saxony at age five and remained there in seclusion until her death at 46 in 1302.
She is remembered, mainly through her extensive writings, as one of the great early mystics of the Church. At 25, she experienced the first of lifelong apparitions of Christ, forsook all secular studies and activities, and devoted herself entirely to immersion in the Bible and early Church writings.
Under the guidance of her superior, St. Mechtilde, she co-authored several treatises dealing with the Eucharist and the Solemnity of the Liturgy, and in anticipation of later widespread devotions, stressed homage to the Sacred Heart.
Some of the prayers she composed still exist, although others were mistakenly attributed to her.
Her name, probably given to honour the abbess of the nunnery when she was adopted, is Germanic and refers to an earlier saint. It didn't appear in England until long after Gertrude's death but became popular with the nicknames Gert or Gertie in the 19th century.
Gertrude the Great was never officially canonized by the Church but in 1677, her feast day was established by Pope Clement XII. She is a patron of the West Indies, nuns and travellers.
Ongoing improvements and expansion of social services characterize her Krakow church. In 1995, for example, 150th anniversary celebrations included the dedication of a new parish centre, including a cafeteria, gym and basement garage.
Since then, the rectory has been completely renovated. Some of the woodlands on the 40 acres have been cleaned out for recreational purposes while preserving the main portion for wildlife.
New picnic grounds and tree-planting are other property improvements.
Added school classrooms and staff were required even before completion of the parish centre to accommodate an almost two-fold increase in enrollment. These, and a former convent converted to a 60-student pre-school have been completely updated to use current computer and TV technology.
The faithful, in addition to attending daily Mass at St. Gertrude's enthusiastically join in a variety of autumn activities - the Life Chain, parish dinners, casinos.
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