Mechtilde bigraphy, stories - Saxon Christian saint

Mechtilde : biography

- 1298

Saint Mechtilde of Hackeborn (1240/1241 – 19 November 1298) was a Saxon Christian saint (from what is now Germany) and a Benedictine nun. In the modern Benedictine calendar, her feast is celebrated on the anniversary of her death, November 19. She died in the monastery of Helfta.


The Sisters of St. Benedict’s of Ferdinand, Indiana, sponsor a "Mechtilde of Hackeborn Sacred Music Series", supported through an endowment established by the Verkamp Family in honor of Sister Mary Aquin and Sister Mary Ann Verkamp.


She is usually represented with scales and sword.

Early life

When Mechtilde was seven years old, having been taken by her mother on a visit to her elder sister Gertrude, at that time a nun in the Cistercian monastery in Rodersdorf, she became so enamoured of the cloister that her pious parents yielded to her requests and allowed her to enter the alumnate. Here, being highly gifted in mind as well as in body, she made remarkable progress in virtue and learning.

Ten years later (1258) she followed her sister, who, now abbess, had transferred the monastery to an estate at Helfta given her by her brothers Louis and Albert. As a nun, Mechtilde was soon distinguished for her humility, her fervour, and that extreme amiability which had characterized her from childhood and which, like piety, seemed almost hereditary in her clan. She joined the convent and eventually became the headmistress of the convent school. Mechtild was employed in the convent looking after the library, illuminating scripts, and wrote her own texts in Latin. Mechtilde wrote many prayers. In 1261, the Abbess committed to her prudent care a child of five who was destined to shed glory and fame upon the monastery of Helfta. This was Gertrude who in later generations became known as St. Gertrude the Great.


The Lord would say to Mechtild: Everything you have and by which you can please me you have from me and through me (St Mechtild of Hakeborn).

In one extraordinary vision she perceived that "the smallest details of creation are reflected in the Holy Trinity by means of the humanity of Christ, because it is from the same earth that produced them that Christ drew his humanity."

It was Julian of Norwich (1342 - about 1416), a recluse who may have had some connections with the benedictines, who gave expression to the idea of God as mother. However, the concept did not originate with her. St Anselm of Canterbury (1033- 1l09) had already fostered devotion to 'our Lord, our Mother' in his widely used "Orationes". The cistercians and carthusians spread it by the use of these prayers in their monasteries, and women such as Marguerite d'Oyngt (d. 1310 ) and Mechtilde of Hackeborn (d. 1299 ) took it up.

In the description of her visions Mechthild von Hackeborn appears throughout as a person of even temper and great sweetness of disposition. In her revelations Christ, the Virgin, and other members of the hierarchy of heaven enter as living realities. She is particularly fond of the angels, whom she loves to picture as the associates of men on earth and in heaven.

Devotion of the Three Hail Marys

Mechtilde was distressed over her eternal salvation and prayed that the Most Holy Virgin to assist at the hour of death. The Blessed Virgin appeared to her and reassured her, saying: "Yes, I will! But I wish, for your part, that you recite three Hail Marys every day, remembering the first power received by the Eternal Father, in the second the wisdom received from the Son, with the third one I love has filled the Holy Spirit ".The Blessed Virgin taught her to pray and to understand especially on how the Three Hail Marys honor the three persons of the Blessed Trinity.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Mechthilde and Gertrude of Helfta, became ardent devotees and promoters of Jesus’ heart after it was the subject of many of their visions. The idea of hearing the heartbeat of God was very important to medieval saints who nurtured devotion to the Sacred Heart. Women such as Saint Mechtilde (d. 1298) and Saint Gertrude (d. 1302) perceived Jesus’ heart as the breast of a mother. Just as a mother gives milk to nourish her child, so Jesus in the Eucharist gives us his life blood.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine