St Gertrude the Great healing oil
St Gertrude the Great healing oil is dedicated to St. Gertrude the Great who was born on January 6, 1256 in Germany. She chose to become a Benedictine Nun. Her deep relationship with the Lord in prayer led to her being hailed as a mystic. Moreover, she was also regarded as a great theologian.
Gertrude, known for being charming and able to win people over, entered the Benedictine Order at Helfta and became a nun. She devoted herself to her studies, and received an education in many different subjects.
In 1281, 25-year-old Gertrude experienced her first series of visions that would continue until the day she passed away. Her visions altered her life and she saw this moment as her new birth. Her priorities turned away from secular teachings and focuses more on studying Scripture and theology.
Gertrude the Mystic
She went on to become one of the great mystics of the 13th century. Along with St. Mechtilde, she practiced what is known as “nuptial mysticism,” seeing herself as the bride of Christ. She embraced charity for both rich and poor. Also, she was a simple woman with a deep solidarity with those not yet ready for the beatific vision, who are still being purified in the state of repose known as purgatory.
Gertrude’s health began to deteriorate, but she continued to only show her love for the Lord.
On November 17, 1301, Gertrude passed away a virgin and joined her Bridegroom forever.
Although Gertrude was never formally canonized, Rome approved a liturgical office of prayer and readings in her honor. To separate her from Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn, Pope Benedict XIV gave her the title, “the Great,” making her the only woman saint to be called, “the Great.”
St. Gertrude the Great is the Patroness of the West Indies and she is often invoked for souls in purgatory. Her feast day is celebrated on November 16.
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Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person is invited to apply oil on the part of their body they want healed. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.