Faithful Friday: Mechtilde of Hackeborn

A nun in a black and white habit holds what looks like a bishop's staff.

By Sarah Levesque

St. Mechtilde of Hackeborn was born in 1240 or 1241 to one of the most important families of Thuringia. She was baptized immediately after her birth, as it was feared that she would die soon after. The priest who baptized her was unconcerned, saying, “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.”

At a young age, Mechtilde followed her older sister Gertrude into a Benedictine cloister, where Gertrude eventually became the Abbess and Mechtilde was given charge of the choir and the young girls, including one who would later be known as Gertrude the Great.

Mechtilde had visions of Christ, and those she confided to wrote them down, to her chagrin. In her visions, Christ called her his nightingale, for she was ever praising him with her sweet voice. He asked that the book of her experiences be called “The Book of Special Grace”, and after her death in 1298, it was spread far and wide by the Friars Preachers (the Domincans). She is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church, particularly around the area where she lived.

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