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Gertrude The Great

1256-c.1302. German mystic. Born at Eisleben, she was brought up from the age of five and educated in the Black Benedictine nunnery of Heltfa, Thuringia. She had her first mystical experience in 1281 and from then on led a life of contemplation. Her Legatus Divinae Pietatis is a classic of Christian mysticism. She was one of the first exponents of the devotion to the Sacred Heart. She also wrote Exercitia Spiritualia, a collection of prayers. She was never formally canonized, yet her cult was first authorized in 1606 and extended to the entire Roman Catholic Church by Clement XIII (1738). She is patroness of the West Indies.