Layout – Gertrude of Nivelles

My last layout wasn’t one of my favourites – it was just… meh.

This one, however, turned out fabulously!

The first thing I do when I begin a layout is search for an image to use. Obviously pickings can be quite slim when it comes to people who lived a thousand years ago and some of the images I find online are….well, crap. Poor quality and really tiny are generally what I find. When it came to Gertrude however, I found a simply stunning image. A photograph of a stained glass window and it is truly beautiful!

The colours of the stained glass are vivid and intense so instead of sticking to my usual neutrals, I went bright! To make the paper I used one of my most popular patterns – Tudor Damask – and coloured it the same shade of red as used in the stained glass and added in some grunge overlays. And lo and behold – it looks almost EXACTLY like the stained glass!

(I’m aware at this point that I’m using a lot of exclamation marks – in my defence I’m very enthusiastic about this layout.)

Because of the intense colours of the background paper and the image of Gertrude, I kept the elements to a bare minimum.


Products used:

Papers I created myself
Metal decorative border by Sheila Reid at Pixel Scrapper
Fonts are Blackadder Regular, Castellar and VTC Switchblade Romance

This is what the text says:

When her father, Pepin of Landen, became Mayor of the Palace to Dagobert I, King of Austrasia, Gertrude and her family moved to Neustria to be with the court.

After Pepin’s death, and despite pronouncing that she would take no earthly husband, there were constant requests by what her mother, Itta, called “violators of souls” who wished to gain wealth and power by marrying Gertrude. Despite Christianity not being common in the 7th century, Itta founded a monastery at Nivelles in modern-day Belgium and Gertrude was installed as Abbess.

After her mother’s death in 652, Gertrude took the whole burden of running the monastery upon herself. She has been described by contemporary scholars as intelligent, scholarly and charitable, devoting herself to the sick, elderly and poor, including orphans, widows, captives and pilgrims, especially Irish monks who travelled to evangelize.

The first miracle attributed of Gertrude in the Vita Sanctae Geretrudis takes place at the altar of St. Sixtus the martyr as Gertrude was standing in prayer. “She saw descending above her a flaming pellucid sphere such that the whole basilica was illuminated by its brightness.” The vision persisted for about half an hour and later was revealed to some of the sisters at the monastery. The second miracle attributed to Gertrude took place as the anonymous author of the Vita Sanctae Geretrudis was peacefully sailing across the sea on monastic business. An incredible storm and a sea monster appeared, causing great distress to the sailors aboard the ship. The sailors turned to their pagan idols but the author’s friend cried out to Gertrude to save himself and his companions. Immediately, the storm subsided and the monster dived back into the deep.

Gertrude led a devout life and eventually had to resign as abbess due to chronic exhaustion from continuous abstinence of food and sleep which she said brought her closer to God. In 659 she sent a monk to a nearby monastery to ask the superior, a living saint, whether God had made known to him the hour of her death. The superior answered that she would die the following day during Holy Mass. The prophecy came true and Gertrude was proclaimed a saint immediately after her death at the age of thirty-three.

She is the patron saint of travelers and gardeners and may be called upon against mice, rats and mental illness. She is frequently depicted in artwork as bearing a staff with mice or rats at her feet.


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