Saint of the Day November 19: St. Mathilde of Hackeborn
St. Mathilde of Hackeborn: the German mystic who spoke with angels
St. Mathilde of Hackeborn
1241, Helfta, Eisleben, Germany
November 19, 1298, Helfta, Eisleben, Germany
O God, who through prayer and the glorious lives of your saints, and especially of St. Matilda, called our fathers to the wondrous light of the Gospel, grant that we too may live in the commitment to a new evangelization of this third Christian millennium and, overcoming the snares of the evil one, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
In the monastery of Helfta in Saxony, Germany, Saint Mectilde, a virgin, who was a woman of exquisite doctrine and humility, enlightened by the divine gift of mystical contemplation.
The Saint and Mission
St. Mathilde of Hackeborn, a significant figure in the Christian mystical tradition, embodied a unique and profound dimension of Christian mission through her life of prayer and contemplation in the monastery of Helfta. Although her mission may have seemed internal and hidden from the eyes of the world, it had a profound and lasting impact on Christian spirituality.
St. Mathilde’s mission was first and foremost that of an intercessora. In the quiet of her monastery, she devoted much of her time to prayer, not only for her monastic community, but also for the universal Church and the whole world. Through her prayers, Matilda actively participated in God’s work, interceding for the needs of many and offering her sufferings as a sacrifice of love.
In addition, the mystical revelations that Matilda received and which were later collected in her writings, such as the “Liber specialis gratiae,” were a source of great inspiration and guidance for many of the faithful. Her writings reflected a deep understanding of God’s mercy and love, and offered a vision of spiritual life that was both accessible and deeply transformative. Her ability to communicate these spiritual truths clearly and poignantly is an essential aspect of her mission.
St. Mathilde was also a spiritual guide for the other nuns in her monastery, contributing to the formation of a community that became a center of intense spiritual and intellectual life. Her influence on the Helfta community, including St. Gertrude the Great, was another important aspect of her mission, as she helped form a generation of women deeply committed to a life of prayer and service to God.
The life of St. Matilda of Hackeborn shows us that Christian mission can be lived deeply even within the confines of a monastery. Her dedication to prayer, contemplation and spiritual leadership is a powerful reminder that every call to consecrated life is a missionary call, a vital service to the Church and the world. Her example inspires all believers to recognize the value and importance of prayer and interior life in the overall mission of the Church.
The Saint and Mercy
St. Mathilde of Hackeborn, a 13th-century Benedictine nun, remains an emblematic figure in the expression of Christian mercy through contemplative life and spirituality. Her existence in the monastery of Helfta, where she lived together with her sister, St. Gertrude the Great, was marked by profound mystical experiences and an intense prayer life.
Mercy in St. Matilda manifested itself primarily through her ministry of prayer and intercession. As a mystic, Matilda experienced deep communion with God, receiving revelations and inspirations that she shared with the monastic community and visitors to the monastery. Her ability to listen and offer spiritual consolation to those in need was a clear testimony to her deep compassion and understanding.
In addition, St. Matilda was known for her dedication to liturgy and sacred music, considering singing and prayer as means to elevate the soul to God and to ask for mercy for the world. Her contribution to the development of Gregorian chant and its influence in the liturgical life of her time reflect her desire to connect the heavenly with the earthly, to bring God’s mercy closer to people through the beauty and sacredness of music.
St. Mathilde also emphasized the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation, both in her personal life and in teaching others. Her insistence on mercy as the way to spiritual healing and reconciliation with God shows a deep understanding of this as a central element of the Christian message.
The life of St. Matilda of Hackeborn reminds us that mercy can be experienced in multiple ways, including through a life of contemplation and prayer. Her example teaches us that inner prayer and love of liturgy are not separate from the task of living mercy, but rather are avenues through which we can deepen our understanding of this fundamental aspect of faith and become instruments of God’s mercy in the world.
Matilda of Hackeborn was a nun at Helfta Abbey; her mystical experience was collected in the Liber Gratiae specialis. She was a confidant of a promise from Our Lady.
Matilda was born between 1240 and 1241 in the castle of Helfta, near Eisleben, Saxony. She belonged to one of the most noble and powerful families in Thuringia. When she was seven years old, she went with her mother to visit her sister Gertrude, then abbess of the Benedictine monastery of Rodersdorf in Switzerland. She remained so enamored of the cloister that her parents agreed to her request to remain there as an educationist. Her vocation grew and…