Saint Mechtilde of Helfta

detail of a statue of Saint Mechtilde of Hackeborn by Johann Georg Üblhör, date unknown; altar of Saint John of Nepomuk, monastery church, Engelhartszell, Upper Austria, Austria; photographed on 27 September 2015 by Wolfgang Sauber; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsAlso known as

  • Mechtilde of Hackeborn-Wippra
  • Mechtilde of Hackenborn
  • Mechtilde of Magdaburg
  • Mathilda of….
  • Mathildis of….
  • Matilda of….
  • Maud of….
  • Mechthild of….
  • Mechtild of….
  • Mechtildis of….
  • The Nightingale of Helfta

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Born to a pious, powerful Thuringian noble family; her older sister was a nun. Conventeducated from age seven, Mechtilde became a nun at Rodersdorf, Switzerland. She moved to the Helfta monastery in 1258 where her sister served as abbess. Teacher and choir director at the convent school at Helfta. Visionary and mystic. Novice mistress for Saint Gertrude the Great who wrote The Book of Special Grace about Mechtilde’s teachings; she was initially terrified that the book might cause trouble, but Christ appeared to her in prayer and told her not to worry. She became a much sought spiritual advisor to her sister nuns, laity and learned Dominicans. May have been the inspiration for the character Matelda in Dante’s Purgatorio.

Born

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Readings

There has never before been anyone like her in our monastery, and I fear there never will be again. Saint Gertrude of Helfta, about Saint Mechtilde

O almighty, everlasting God, seeing that it is the true faith of your Church that the holy sacrifice of the Mass instituted by your Son is infinitely pleasing to your divine Majesty, and renders you an infinite worship and praise, and since by it alone you can be worthily and adequately worshiped and praised; impelled by an ardent desire of your honour and glory, I purpose to assist at this present sacrifice with the utmost devotion of which I am capable, and to offer this most Holy Oblation to you in union with your priest. I offer you not only this sacrifice, but all those which shall be this day offered from every part of the world; and I protest before you that if it depended on me whether they should be offered or omitted, I would put forth all my powers to procure and further their being offered. And were I able now to raise up to you, of the stones which are scattered over the earth, most devoted priests, who should day by day and with glowing fervour offer to you this sacrifice of praise, I would most gladly do it. But, being what I am, I implore you, O most holy Father, through Jesus Christ your Son, to pour into the hearts of all your priests, and especially those who might perchance otherwise offer you this acceptable sacrifice coldly and without due recollectedness, the spirit of grace and of fervour, that they may be enabled to celebrate your tremendous Mystery with becoming awe and devotion. Grant to me, and to all those who are here present with me, that we may join in this most sacred action with reverence and devotion, so that we may have our portion in its fruit and effect. I confess to you, O almighty God, and to the Blessed Mary ever Virgin, and to all the Saints, my own sins and those of all the world; and I lay them on your sacred Altar, that they may be entirely blotted out by the virtue of this sacrifice. Do you deign to grant us this grace, by that love which held back your hand from smiting when your most beloved Son, your only Son, was immolated by the hands of ungodly men. Amen. prayer before Mass, by Saint Mechtilde

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Mechtilde of Helfta“. CatholicSaints.Info. 18 November 2018. Web. 13 December 2018. <>