Mechtild of Magdeburg

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Book Chapter

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Gertrude of Helfta was a nun at the noble monastery at Helfta in Saxony, located in the diocese of Halberstadt. Although not formally incorporated into the Cistercian Order, the convent appears to have been one of many women's houses that followed some Cistercian customs, tailoring them to their particular needs and circumstances. Gertrude entered Helfta at the age of 5; we know nothing about her family or the circumstances of her entry. Raised in a bookish environment, Gertrude had a precocious intellectual appetite and was a disciplined student of the liberal arts. She was a young woman when she received her first vision, that of a beautiful adolescent she recognized as her Lord. She began, thereafter, to be regularly privy to revelations suffused with vivid imagery and dense with spiritual teachings.