Ven. Gertrude van der Oosten
Beguine; born at Voorburch, Holland; died at Delft, 6 Jan., 1358. She was
born of peasant parents, and was remarkable from childhood for her piety and
prudence. Later, in order to gain a livelihood, she entered into service at
Delft, where she likewise devoted herself to practices of piety and charity. Her
van Ooten, or
of the East, is due to her custom of singing a hymn
Het daghet in den Oosten, i.e.,
Day breaketh in the East, the
composition of which is attributed to herself. She lived devoutly in the world,
spending much time in exercises of piety and works of charity, and finally
determined to abandon all human ties and give herself to the service of God.
With this intent she begged, and with difficulty obtained, entrance into the
Beguinage of Delft. Here, though not a religious, nor bound by vows, she
profited by the ample opportunities afforded for the exercise of her zeal and
charity, as well as by the atmosphere of prayer and seclusion, to attain to a
very high degree of virtue and contemplation. Gertrude evinced great devotion to
the mysteries of the Incarnation, especially to the Sacred Passion, on which
account she merited to receive on her body the impression of the sacred stigmata,
from which the blood flowed freely seven times a day at each of the canonical
hours. Distressed and alarmed at the multitude that flocked to witness such a
wonder, she begged that the favour might be withdrawn, and her prayer was so far
granted that the blood ceased to flow, but the marks of the sacred stigmata
remained. At the same time the great spiritual consolation she had enjoyed was
favoured with the gift of prophecy, having knowledge, at the actual time, of
what took place at a distance as well as of what was to happen in the future.
At length, after many years passed among the Beguines in great fervour, austerity, and devotion, the time of her death approched. She had been wont to speak of her great delight of this day, to meditate on it devoutly, and even to make it a subject of her frequent songs. She died on the feast of Epiphany and buried in the church of St. Hippolytus Delft, the Beguines having neither a church nor a cemetery of their own at the time. Her name has never been inscribed in the Roman Martyrology, though she is commemorated in various others, and her cultus is merely a local one. Her private dwelling is still preserved with veneration, and the cross before which she received the stigmata is annually exposed on the anniversary of her death.
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