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Matilda’s Last Years.

Matilda was fifty-three years old when, in the year 1265, she took refuge in the convent of Hellfde.

Gertrude von Hackeborn was not one who would refuse admission to a persecuted “Friend of God.” Gertrude had now been abbess fourteen years, and was in the prime of her life and activity. Mechthild von Hackeborn, “the maiden so marvellously lovable,” as they said in the convent, was then twenty-five. The little Gertrude, who was to be the brightest star amongst the sisters of Hellfde, was only nine.

But during the twelve remaining years of the life of Matilda of Magdeburg there was time enough for some good seed to be sown in the heart of Gertrude, which should one day spring up and bear much fruit.

Soon after Matilda’s entrance into the convent she had a severe and painful illness. But she was tended with loving care, and found amongst her sisters of Hellfde a happy and peaceful home. She in her turn was regarded by them as an honoured teacher, and her influence made itself quickly felt.


It was at Hellfde that she wrote the two remaining books, “rich,” says Preger, “in light and instruction.” When she had finished the sixth book she thought that her task was done. She therefore concluded it with a word of farewell—“This book was begun in love, it shall also end in love; for there is nought so wise, nor so holy, nor so beautiful, nor so strong, nor so perfect as love.”

But afterwards Matilda felt herself led to write “more of that which God had shown her,” although she had prayed that she might now lay down her pen and cease from her labours.1010“Why did I thus pray?” she writes. “Because I find that I am still just as despicable and unworthy as I was thirty years ago when I began to write. But the Lord showed me that He had healing roots stored, as it were, in a little sack, and with them should the sick be refreshed, and the healthy strengthened, and the dead raised, and the godly sanctified.”

In the last years of her life she was obliged to write by dictation, her eyes and hands having failed her. The following extracts from the last two books will show an advance in the knowledge of Him she loved, and for whom she laboured to the last.

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