Saint Hildegard of Bingen was born into a noble family, she was instructed for ten years by the Rev Blessed Jutta. Hildegard became a Benedictine nun at the age of 18 in the Monastery of Saint Disibodenberg. On an order by her confessor to write down the visions that she had received since the age of three, Hildegard took ten years to write her Scivias (Know the Ways). Pope Eugene III read it, and in 1147, encouraged her to continue writing. Her Book of the Merits of Life and Book of Divine Works followed. She wrote over 300 letters to people who sought after her advice; she also composed short works on medicine and physiology and sought advice from contemporaries such as Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.

She was a talented writer, poet and composer. Hildegard collected 77 of her lyric poems, each with a musical setting composed by her, in Symphonia Harmonie celestial revelation. Her numerous other writings include the lives of saints; two treatises on medicine and natural history, reflecting a quality of scientific observation rare at that period; and extensive correspondence, in which are to be found further prophecies and allegorical treatises. She also for amusement contrived her own language. She travelled vastly throughout Germany, evangelizing to large groups of people about her visions and religious insights.

The visions of Hildegard’s caused her to see humans as “living lights” of God’s love, coming from God as daylight comes from the sun. Sin destroyed the original harmony of creation; Christ’s redeeming death and resurrection opened up new possibilities. Virtuous living reduces the estrangement from God and others that sin causes.

Like all mystical figure, Hildegard saw the harmony of God’s creation and the place of women and men in that. This unity was not apparent to many of her contemporaries. Hildegard was also an important person in the history of music. There are more surviving chant compositions by St. Hildegard than any other medieval composer.

St Hildegard was familiar to controversy. The monks near her original foundation protested vigorously when she relocated her monastery to Bingen, overlooking the Rhine River. She confronted Emperor Frederick Barbarossa for supporting at least three antipopes. Hildegard challenged the Cathars, who rejected the Catholic Church claiming to follow a purer and more defined Christianity.

Hildegard often preached in the Rhineland between 1152 and 1162. Her monastery was placed under interdict because she had permitted the burial of a young man who had been excommunicated. She insisted that he had been reconciled with the Church and had received its sacraments before dying. Hildegard protested bitterly when the local bishop forbade the celebration of our reception of the Eucharist at the Bingen monastery, a sanction that was lifted only a few months before her death.

Hildegard continued her writings for the remainder of her Life. Her principal work is called Scivias. Twenty-six of her visions and their meanings are recorded. Hildegarde wrote on many other subjects, too. Her works included commentaries on the Gospels, the Athanasian Creed, and the Rule of St. Benedict, as well as Lives of the Saints and a medical work on the well-being of the body.

She became even more venerated in her death than when she was alive. According to her biographer, Theodoric, she had always been a saint and through her intercession, many miracles happened.

In 2012, Hildegard was canonized and conferred a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI. Her Liturgical Feast Day is September 17 of every year.

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