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St Gertrude’s Synecdoche: The Problem of Writing the Sacred Heart

St Gertrude’s Synecdoche: The Problem of Writing the Sacred Heart

Jenkins, Eve B.

Essays in Medieval Studies, vol. 14 (1997)

Abstract

St Gertrude was reluctant to acquiesce to the Lord’s demand that she write an account of her mystical experiences for others to read. “I thought it so unseemly,” she confesses, “to write down all these things that I could not bring myself to listen to the voice of conscience and kept on putting it off.” Yet , fortunately, her Legatus memorialis abundantiae divinae pietatis (The Herald of Divine Love in its usual English rendering) was written despite her reservations, and has survived. How did Gertrude manage to overcome her qualms? This paper proposes to explore the way in which deployment of one central symbol, that of the sacred heart of Christ, invests Gertrude with both the authority and the ability to write in seemly fashion about God.

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