An interesting book on the origins of Dante's Matelda.
completely crippled, and in constant suffering, she insisted upon being carried to the sisters who were ill in bed, that she might speak to them a word of comfort. When at last her speech failed her, her beaming eyes, her loving countenance, and the gentle movement of her hand assured the sisters who stood around her that her affection for them remained untouched by her bodily infirmities. The sisters said it was not a melancholy, but a joyful, duty to watch by her bed of weakness and suffering.
But it was never the case during her long superintendence of the convent that this remarkable power of loving interfered with the strictest discipline, or with the wise and careful ordering of the convent life. She had no easy task when many daughters of the highest families of the North German nobles were committed to her care. They were accustomed to rule rather than to obey, and to live idle lives of pleasure and self-indulgence. But under the loving direction of the Abbess Gertrude order and indust