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Liturgical Press

Spiritual Exercises

Gertrud the Great of Helfta; Translated, with an Introduction, by Gertrud Jaron Lewis and Jack Lewis

Spiritual Exercises
Spiritual Exercises

ISBN: 9780879074494, CF049P

Details: 178 pgs, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 3/8
Publication Date: 11/01/1989
Cistercian Publications
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The remarkable monastery of Helfta was a 'place where learning and art, courtesy and holiness flowered in a dark season' of interregnal warfare.*  The nuns drew their inspiration from the twin roots of Citeaux: the Rule of Saint Benedict and the constitutions of Citeaux; their spirituality, liturgy, customs, and habits were modelled on those of the White Monks, even though juridically they were not part of the Cistercian Order.

Under the guidance of the thirteenth-century abbess Gertrud of Hackeborn, the nuns of Helfta steadfastly pursued learning and holiness. Among them were three outstanding women whose works have come down through the centuries: Mechtilde of Hackeborn, Mechtilde of Magdeburg, and the scholarly Gertrud the Great.

Having entered monastic life at the age of five, Gertrud combined a deep knowledge of the Church Fathers and earlier medieval writers, an intimate familiarity with Scripture, and innate common sense. Her Spiritual Exercises—prayers, litanies, meditations, and hymns—articulate a spirituality that is both traditionally monastic and authentically, but unself-consciously, feminine.

Hers is a mysticism of light and love, of humility and commitment, of freedom and discipline and—most of all—of joy.


*M. Jeremy Finnegan OP, 'The Women of Helfta', Peace Weavers, Medieval Religious Women, 2:212.

ISBN: 9780879074494, CF049P

Details: 178 pgs, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 3/8
Publication Date: 11/01/1989
Cistercian Publications

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A veritable jewel of medieval spirituality.
Collectanea