Feast of Bl. Gertrude of Altenburg, O. Praem.
(b. September 29, 1227, † August 13, 1297)
- Crosier and pectoral cross = Abbess
- Almutium = Symbol of final incorporation into a religious community
- Crown = Noble countess
- Monstrance = Corpus Christi feast
- Architecture = Built church, hospital, and guesthouse
Gertrude was the daughter of Count Louis of Thuringia and Hesse, whose wife was St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Her father dedicated her to God from the womb as he prepared to depart for the Crusades in 1227. Louis offered the unborn child to the Premonstratensian canons of Rommersdorf if a boy, or the Premonstratensian canonesses of Altenberg if a girl. Gertrude was born on September 29, 1227, a few weeks after Louis died in the Crusades. Her mother, who wished to devote the rest of her life to prayer and the service of the poor, kept her husband’s vow by entrusting Gertrude to the convent in Altenberg.
Gertrude received her entire education at Altenberg and became the third prioress of the monastery at age 24. Using her inheritance, she built the monastery church, a hospital, and guesthouse for the poor. While washing the sick, Gertrude was reported to say, “How beautiful it is that we are allowed to bathe the Savior!” When Pope Urban IV renewed the call for a crusade, Gertrude became a zealous advocate of this endeavor, collecting money for the crusaders.
In 1264, when a Decree of Pope Urban IV established the feast of Corpus Christi was met with widespread resistance, Gertrude introduced the feast at Altenberg, thus becoming one of the first to introduce the new Eucharistic feast in the order.
In everyday life, Gertrude took care of the needs of the poorest—both in the hospital and in the monastery. She had the gift of reconciling people and imploring God’s mercy through penance and mortification.
After a serious illness, she died on August 13, 1297, having led her community for 50 years. She was buried in the monastery church of Altenberg. Pope Clement V granted indulgences on the anniversary of her day of death and allowed her veneration in 1311. Her cult as a “blessed” was confirmed by Pope Benedict XIII on January 22, 1728.
Date(s) - August 13, 2017