St. Hildegarde of Bingen

posted by: Joan Vine | on: Wednesday, 26 December 2018, 12:00


St. Hildegarde of Bingen

St. Hildegarde of Bingen

Hildegard was born of noble parents and was educated at the Benedictine cloister of Disibodenberg by Jutta (Judith), she was a religious recluse and sister of the count of Spanheim. Hildegard was 15 years old when she began wearing the Benedictine habit and pursuing a religious life. She succeeded Jutta as prioress in 1136.

Having experienced visions since she was a child, at the age of43 she consulted her confessor, who in turn reported the matter to the archbishop of Mainz. A committee of theologians subsequently confirmed the authenticity of Hildegard’s visions, and a monk was appointed to help her record them in writing. The finished work, ‘Scivias’ written between 1141-52, consists of 26 visions that are visionary and apocalyptic in form and in their treatment of such topics as the church, the relationship between God and humanity, and redemption. About 1147 Hildegard left Disibodenberg with several nuns to start a new convent at Rupertsberg, where she continued to exercise the gift of prophesy and to write more about her visions.

A talented poet and composer, Hildegard collected 77 of her lyric poems, each with a musical setting composed by her. Her numerous other writings include the lives of the Saints, two essays on medicine and natural history, reflecting a quality of scientific observation rare at that period. She travelled widely throughout Germany, evangelizing to large groups of people about her visions and religious insights.

Her earliest biographer proclaimed her a saint and her miracles were reported during her life. However, she was not formally canonised until 2012, by Pope Benedict XV1

As one of the few prominent women in medieval church history, Hildegard became the subject of increasing interest in the latter half of the 20th century. Her writings were widely translated into English and several recordings of her music were made available.

Hildegard died on September 17, 1179, near Bingen and canonised on May 10, 2012. Her feast day is on September 17.

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