In one week we have two diamonds in the crown of Benedictine (Cistercian) sanctity: St Gertrude and today, St Mechtild of Magdeburg (c.1210 – 1280).

The witness of St Mechtild is striking because it conveys a personal experience with the Lord. Far being abstract and vague, Mechtild relates her experience of the love she and God shared. These experiences are what we all are after in our relationship with the Lord. Mechtild’s biography notes that she was 12 when these mystical experiences began. When she was 18 she joined a community of Béguines. After forty years, she moved to the Cistercian convent of Helfta. Her prose showed poetic sensitivity in direct and simple language.

In another place I wrote of St Mechtild, “According to some scholars, this Cistercian-Benedictine nun and poet, theologian and mystic was the inspiration of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Interesting that her liturgical memorial comes at the end of the liturgical calendar given her visions of heaven, hell and purgatory! Some people register a doubt about her status as a canonized saint in the Church but she is remembered in the Roman Martyrology (2004) and venerated as such by many, including the Cistercian-Benedictines and that’s good enough for me. The Martyrology speaks of Saint Mechtild as a woman of exquiste doctrine and humility, and supernatural gifts of mystical contemplation.”

The words in the picture mean:

Das fliessende Licht der Gottheit
The flowing light of the Godhead

Herr himmlischer Vater, du bist mein Herz.
Lord Heavenly Father, you are my heart.

Herr Jesus Christus, du bist mein Leib.
Lord Jesus Christ, you are my love.

Herr Heiliger Geist, du bist mein Atem.
Lord Holy Spirit, you are my breath.

– St Mechtild von Magdeburg
Picture: (c) Initiativkreis Kloster Helfta.e.V. Durach