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(DAME GERTRUDE.)

Benedictine nun of the English Congregation; b. at Low Leyton, Essex, England, 25 March, 1606; d. at Cambrai, France, 17 August, 1633. Her father, Cresacre More, was great-grandson of Blessed Thomas More ; her mother, Elizabeth Gage, was sister of Sir John Gage, Baronet, of Firle, Sussex, lord chamberlain to Queen Mary. Her mother dying at an early age, Helen's care and education now devolved upon her father. By persuasion of Dom Benet Jones, O.S.B., she joined his projected foundation at Cambrai, and was first among nine postulants admitted to the order, 31 Dec., 1623, but vacillation of mind so disquieted her novitiate, that only with the greatest hesitation she pronounced her vows on 1 January, 1625; nor was she even then quite free from scruples and temptations, until she had availed herself of Dom Augustine Baker's prudent guidance. A year or two later, having now become Dame Gertrude, learning from him the use of affective prayer, a complete change was wrought in her; rapidly advancing in the interior life, she became a source of edification to the infant community, and, in 1629, when a choice of abbess must be made, her name, conjointly with that of Catharine Gascoigne, was sent to Rome for a dispensation on point of age. Catharine was eventually chosen, but Gertrude was always honoured as chief foundress. Supporting her abbess by lifelong devotion, promoting peace and good observance, she was universally beloved. None suffered more nor with edifying fortitude than Dame Gertrude, under a heavy trial to which the community was subjected through interference of the vicar, Dom F. Hull, with Father Baker's teachings. Later, doubts arising as to her mode of prayer, formal inquiry was made, resulting in approval at the General Chapter in 1633, during the sessions of which, however, Gertrude was attacked by small-pox and died a peaceful death.

Some papers found after her death and arranged by Father Baker, were afterwards published in two separate works: one entitled "The Holy Practices of a Divine Lover, or the Sainctly Ideot's Devotions" (Paris, 1657); the other, "Confessiones Amantis", or "Spirtual Exercises", or "Ideot's Devotions", to which was prefixed her "Apology", for herself and for her spiritual guide (Paris, 1658), both recently republished.


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