Mechtilde : biography

- 1298

When you awake in the morning, let your first act be to salute My Heart, and to offer Me your own.... Whoever shall breathe a sigh toward Me from the bottom of his heart when he awakes in the morning and shall ask Me to work all his works in him throughout the day, will draw Me to him ... For never does a man breathe a sigh of longing aspiration toward Me without drawing Me nearer to him than I was before. (Jesus to Saint Mechtilde)

One of the visions recounted by Mechtilde states that Jesus having appeared to her, commanded her to love Him ardently, and to honor His Sacred Heart in the Blessed Sacrament as much as possible. He gave her His Sacred Heart as a pledge of His love, as a place of refuge during her life and as her consolation at the hour of her death. From this time Mechtilde had an extraordinary devotion for the Sacred Heart, and she received such great graces from It that she was accustomed to say that if she had to write down all the favors and all the blessings which she had received by means of this devotion, a large book would not contain them.

In another, Jesus himself recommended the Gospel; opening to her the wound of his most gentle heart, he said to her: "Consider how great is my love: If you want to know it well, you will not find it expressed more clearly anywhere than in the Gospel. No one has ever expressed stronger or more tender feelings than these: As my Father has loved me, so have I loved you (John 15:9)". Her accounts of these visions were later compiled in the Liber Specialis Gratiae.

Birth and Baptism

Born Matilda von Hackeborn-Wippra, in 1240 or 1241, she belonged to one of the noblest and most powerful Thuringian families; her sister was the illustrious Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn. The family of Hakeborn belonged to a dynasty of Barons in Thuringia who were related to the Hohenstaufen and had possessions in Northern Thyringia and in the Harz Maountains. Some writers have considered that Mechtilde von Hackeborn and Mechtilde von Wippra were two distinct persons, but, as the Barons of Hackeborn were also Lords of Wippra, it was customary for members of that family to take their name indifferently from either, or both of these estates. So fragile was she at birth, that the attendants, fearing she might die unbaptized, hurried her off to the priest who was just then preparing to say Mass. He was reported as a person of "great sanctity," and after baptizing the child, is reported to have declared a statement to this effect, judged by some to be prophetic: "What do you fear? This child most certainly will not die, but she will become a saintly religious in whom God will work many wonders, and she will end her days in a good old age."

Musical and spiritual gifts

She was famous for her musical talents and was called the “Nightingale of Helfta”. Gifted with a beautiful voice, Mechtilde also possessed a special talent for rendering the solemn and sacred music over which she presided as domna cantrix. All her life she held this office and trained the choir with indefatigable zeal. Indeed, divine praise was the keynote of her life as it is of her book; in this she never tired, despite her continual and severe physical sufferings, so that in His revelations Christ was wont to call her His "nightingale". Souls thirsting for consolation or groping for light sought her advice; learned Dominicans consulted her on spiritual matters. At the beginning of her own mystic life it may have been from St. Mechtilde that St. Gertrude the Great learnt that the marvellous gifts lavished upon her were from God.

Dante's Donna Matelda

Critics have long been perplexed as to one of the characters introduced by Dante in his Purgatorio under the name of Matelda. After ascending seven terraces of a mountain, on each of which the process of purification is carried on, Dante, in Canto xxvii, hears a voice singing: "Venite, benedicti patris mei"; then later, in Canto xxviii, there appears to him on the opposite bank of the mysterious stream a lady, solitary, beautiful, and gracious. To her Dante addresses himself; she it is who initiates him into secrets, which it is not given to Virgil to penetrate, and it is to her that Beatrice refers Dante in the words: "Entreat Matilda that she teach thee this."

Living octopus

Living octopus

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