Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index

Translation of the Month

November 2020 [Posted February 2021

Gertrude the Great of Helfta, The Herald of God's Loving-Kindness: Book 5 and The Book of Special Grace, Parts Six and Seven by Mechtild of Hackeborn. Translated, with an introduction and notes, by Alexandra Barratt. Liturgical Press, 2020. ISBN 9780879071868. eISBN: 9780879075866.

Yde pledges herself to Olive
The Magi present their gifts and Christ stands on the altar of the Temple, Speculum humanae salvationis, Germany or Alsace, 2nd or 3rd quarter of the 14th century, London, British Library, Harley 4996, folio 45 (British Library, Public domain).

“Gertrud the Great (1256-1302) entered the monastery of Helfta in eastern Germany as a child oblate. At the age of twenty-five she underwent a conversion that led to a series of visionary experiences. These centered on ‘the divine loving-kindness,’ which she perceived as expressed through and symbolized by Christ's divine Heart. Some of these experiences she recorded in Latin ‘with her own hand,’ in what became book 2 of The Herald of God's Loving-Kindness.

Books 1, 3, 4, and 5 were written down by another nun, a close confidant of the saint, now often known as ‘Sister N.’ Book 5 details the sickness, deaths, and afterlife fates of various Helfta nuns, novices, and lay brothers, as witnessed by Gertrud in her visions. It also describes Gertrud's preparations for her own death and her predictive visions of her ultimate glorification in heaven. The Herald concludes with Sister N.'s personal account of her presentation of the whole book to the Lord at Mass, the welcome he gave it, and the privileges he attached to it.

The Book of Special Grace, which mainly records the visions of Mechtild of Hackeborn, was probably compiled by Gertrud herself with the help of Sister N. Parts 6 and 7 recount the deaths of the abbess Gertrud and of Mechtild, her younger sister. As many passages overlap, sometimes verbatim, with corresponding chapters in book 5 of The Herald, a translation has been included for purposes of comparison.” — [Description provided by the publisher] Alexandra Barratt has previously translated Books One and Two, Book Three, and Book Four of The Herald for the Cistercian Fathers series from Liturgical Press.

Ikone der Heiligen Eudokia, Einlegearbeit in Stein und Elfenbein, 10. Jh.Indexers select a translation each month that is significant in the ideas it presents.  This gives users an opportunity to see a range of newly translated medieval works of importance for women's and gender studies.  It also will build an archive of references to translations that will be useful as classroom readings.

Depending upon the content, an entire work may be indexed as a single title like the vita of a saint or the collected cartularies of a countess.  But in many cases the translation deals only in part with issues involving women and gender.  In those instances, indexing goes to a deeper level, identifying and describing specific sections within a text.  For example, there are 93 records for pertinent sections in the Siete Partidas.

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