Little is known about the childhood of Saint Lutgardis (Luthgard), whose feast day is celebrated on the 16th of June each year. She was born in 1182, at Tangares (Tongres) in the Netherlands. Said to have been a pretty girl, she was known to have loved beautiful clothes. I guess young girls haven’t changed so much over the centuries after all.
Unexpectedly, at the age of twelve, Lutgardis was sent to Saint Catherine’s convent. To be sent to a convent must have been somewhat of a shock as Lutgardis had no calling or inclination to a religious life and had always expected to be married. Unfortunately, those expectations were dashed when her father lost the money set aside for her dowry by investing in a failed business venture. None-the-less, everything happens for a reason, and it would not be long before Lutgardis would discover her own. She was exactly where she needed to be.
Initially, Lutgardis’ presence in the convent resembled that of a boarder. She had taken no vows, came and went as she pleased, and was allowed to both visit and attend visitors, but all of this changed during her teenage years. One day, Lutgardis was blessed by a vision of Christ that changed her world. His presence, invitation, and message led her to take her vows as a Benedictine nun. She received her calling and embraced her future with a full and dedicated heart.
While serving her Lord at Saint Catherine’s, Lutgardis would experience a spiritual connection with the Lord that many of us will never see or come to understand. She had visions of both Jesus and the Mother Mary and dedicated herself to prayer. As time went on, the convent relied on her both her spiritual gifts and leadership, but her desire to live quietly outside of the limelight (she had no desire to become abbess) led her to join the Cistercian Monastery at Aywieres (near the city of Brussels). She would spend the rest of her life there.
Lutgardis spent thirty years at the monastery imparting her wisdom, all while sharing her gifts of healing and prophesy. Her ability to communicate in French was limited, a fact that originally caused those around her to question her decision. Regardless, she took the advice of her fellow nun, Christine ( Saint Christine the Astonishing) and enjoyed the limitations the language barrier imposed.
Lutgardis suffered blindness during the last eleven years of her life on earth, and true to form, she saw what most of us would find to be a great burden as a gift. Her inability to see, simply improved her other senses, and the lack of visual distraction allowed her to focus on her prayers. In the final year of her life, she noted that Christ had asked her for three things in a vision;
- that she should be thankful for everything she had received.
- that she pray incessantly for all sinners to be converted
- that she should rely on God for all of her needs
Not long before her death, Jesus appeared to her once more and told her the exact day she would die. Lutgardis took her last breath at the age of 64, just a short time after the conclusion of the “Feast of the Holy Trinity;” the day, June 16, 1246, just as He had told her.
“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:16
The “Feast Day of Saint Lutgardis” is not a universal celebration, but in the world of Catholic saints and martyrs, her life and works are truly worth celebrating. Lutgardis was the first recorded stigmatic, and a contemporary of Saint Francis. Lutgardis is the patron saint of both the blind and the physically disabled.
“Share.” ST. LUTGARDIS . N.p., n.d. Web. 19 June 2014.
“Saint Lutgardis (1182-1246).” Saint Mary’s Press: The Catholic Bible Publisher for Teens . N.p., n.d. Web. 19 June 2014.