St. Metchtildis was born Matilda von Hackeborn-Wippra, in Saxony, what is now Germany. She belonged to one of the noblest and most powerful Thuringian families, and her sister was the Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn. She was so fragile at birth; they feared she might die without being baptized. They hurried off to the Priest who was preparing to say Mass. He was known as a pious Priest, noted for his sanctity, and he declared, “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”.
When she was seven years old, having been taken by her mother on a visit to her elder sister Gertrude, who is now St. Gertrude, at that time a nun in the Cistercian monastery, she became so enamoured of the cloister that her pious parents granted her request and allowed her to enter. She was gifted in mind and body, and made remarkable progress in virtue and learning. Ten years later she followed her sister who now was the Abbess, and transferred the monastery to an estate at Helfta, given to them by her brothers. She was in charge of the alumnate and the choir.
Gifted with a beautiful voice, she possessed a special talent for rendering the solemn and sacred music. Divine praise was the keynote of her life. She was a mystic, and many came to her for advice. Even learned Dominicans consulted her on spiritual matters. She had a vision of Christ holding in His hand the book of her revelations and writings, saying, “All this has been committed to writing by my will and inspiration, and, therefore you have no cause to be troubled about it”. He also told her that as He had been so generous towards her, she must make Him a like return, and that the diffusion of the revelations would cause many to increase in His love, moreover, He wished this book to be called, “The Book of Specail Grace”, because it would prove such to many. Immediately after her death, it was made public, and copies were distributed in volume.
She died in the Monastery of Helfta, on November 19, 1298. Her feast is celebrated on the anniversary of her death. With that of St. Gertrude, the body of St. Mechtildis most likely still reposes at Old Helfta, though the exact spot is unknown.
Practical Take Away
St. Metchtildis of Helfta was drawn to the spiritual life at an early age. She entered the cloister at Helfta, and was put in charge of the choir. She was both gifted spiritually and musically. She was a mystic, and had visions of Jesus, telling her that her writings would be a blessing to many. He wished this book be called “The Book of Special Grace” because it would prove such, to many. She died in the Monastery in Helfta, and her feast day is celebrated on November 19th.
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