Excerpt from “The Life and Revelations of St. Gertrude the Great”:
[I am posting a longer-than-usual excerpt here for those of you who may not have the book, as it is such a beautiful passage concerning St. Gertrude’s death, and also gives us two insights into the Blessed Virgin Mary that I haven’t come across elsewhere in my reading.]
When the happy day of release came, which the Saint had so long and so ardently desired, Our Lord appeared to her with His Divine countenance radiant with joy. On His right hand stood His ever-blessed Mother, and on His left the beloved disciple John. An immense multitude of Saints attended the King of Saints, and among their glorious ranks were seen a band of virgins, who appeared to the religious of the monastery and joined themselves with them. Our Divine Lord approached the bed of the dying Saint, showing such marks of tenderness and affection as were more than sufficient to sweeten the bitterness of death. When the Passion was read, at the words, “Et inclinato capite emisit spiritum,” [and bowing His head, He gave up the ghost] Our Lord inclined toward His faithful spouse and opened wide His adorable Heart, as if transported with love, pouring forth all its tenderness on her. It might have seemed enough; but even on earth there was yet more consolation reserved for her who had been faithful usque ad mortem – even until death.
As the sisters prayed and wept around her bed, the religious so favored by Our Lord ventured to address Him thus: “O most sweet Jesus! We beseech Thee, by the goodness which prompted Thee to give us so dear a mother, that, as Thou art about to take her from this world, Thou wouldst condescend to our prayers, and receive her with the same affection as Thou didst Thy Blessed Mother, when she went forth from the body.” Then Our Lord, with exceeding clemency, turned to His Blessed Mother and said to her: “Tell Me, My Mother, what I did most pleasing to you when you were leaving the world, for they ask Me to bestow a similar favor on their mother.” “My Son,” replied the Holy Virgin sweetly, “my greatest joy was the grace which You showed me of receiving me in the secure asylum of Your holy arms.” Our Lord replied: “I granted this because My Mother, when on earth, ever remembered My Passion with such intense anguish.” Then He added [speaking to His Mother, Mary]: “I granted this favor to [you] My chosen one in recompense for the care which you had, while yet on earth, to meditate often in your mind, and to revere by your grief and your tears, the mystery of My Passion. Gertrude must therefore render herself in some sort worthy of this favor, by the pain and difficulty which she will suffer today in breathing. The patience which she will thus be called to exercise will place her in a state somewhat similar to that to which you were often reduced by the recollection of My sufferings.”
St. Gertrude accordingly continued in her agony the entire day, but our Lord did not leave her to suffer alone. His Heart had already been opened to her, and from thence she drew the help and consolation she needed. Celestial spirits also surrounded her bed, and she beheld them inviting her to Paradise, and heard their celestial harmony as they sung continually: “Come, come, come, O lady! The joys of Heaven await thee! Alleluia! Alleluia!”
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I am thinking now of Mary having great pain and difficulty breathing during her prayer and meditation, so united was she to her Son’s asphyxiation on the Cross, as Jesus made known in this revelation from the year 1302. Jesus still desires to reveal the depth of unity between His Mother and Himself.