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Saint Gertrude of Nivelles

Updated on August 24, 2010

Saint Gertrude of Nivelles

Saint Gertrude of Nivelles was born in Landen, Belgium in 626. St. Gertrude was raised by her loving mother, Itta, and father, Pepin I of Landen. Her father was fairly powerful in Belgium while she was growing up. If anybody who travels often is searching for their patron saint then Saint Gertrude is the saint they have been looking for.

Saint Gertrude was ten years old when she first pronounced she would be living a celibate life devoted to religion. Her father had many friends and family over for a feast. When the food was nearly all gone, Gertrude's hand was asked for in marriage by a friend of the family. Gertrude respectfully declined the offer and told everybody she would not be getting married. While this upset her father, he could respect her selfless decision.

In 640, Gertrude lost her father forever when he became very ill and died one night. Itta knew of Gertrude's longing to have a life devoted to God, so she took some of the money left to her by her late husband and had a monastery built in the nearby town of Nivelles. Gertrude was put at the head of this monastery, and her mother decided she too wanted to devote the rest of her years to God and becoming more spiritual.

Two Irish monks on a journey from their home to Rome came across the monastery that Gertrude and her mother lived in one day. Gertrude and the two men got along famously, and she asked them if they would like to found another monastery in Fosse. The men were excited at the offer and took Gertrude up on it.

One of the monks, Follian, stayed with Gertrude in Nivelles and took up a position teaching all those who lived there on scripture based knowledge. He was an expert in scripture and they were all being taught by the best. The other monk, Ultan, got to go to Fosse to build and recruit members for the new monastery there.

Itta would die in 652, and this was a tough time for Gertrude. This also meant that she was completely in control of the two monasteries that her and her mother had built. Gertrude gathered a group of monks and nuns to take care of daily business around the monasteries. This left Gertrude with a lot of free time, which she had planned on. Gertrude wanted to take time alone to study scripture and become more knowledgeable.

Gertrude also needed to make a big decision. Her mother still had an abundance of land left to her by their father when she passed away. This all became Gertrude's land when Itta died, and Gertrude wanted to do something with it. So she had a handful of monasteries built, as well as a few churches. She thought this was the best way to utilize the land. Gertrude was always very into fasting. This fasting caused her body to be extremely weak when she got older. Gertrude could no longer run the monasteries that she had built and gave them to her niece.

Strangely enough, Saint Ultan of Fosse foretold the passing away of Saint Gertrude. The day before it happened Saint Ultan told Saint Gertrude at Mass that she would die tomorrow. Gertrude did just that on the 17th of March in 659. Upon her death, Gertrude was named a saint and had a beautiful church built in honor of her life.


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      MomKatPat 5 years ago

      St Gertrude was also the Patron Saint of Cats. Very important :)