Hildegard of Bingen, St.
HILDEGARD OF BINGEN, ST.
Abbess of Rupertsberg, mystic, and writer; b. Böckelheim, Diocese of Mainz, Germany, 1098; d. Rupertsberg, Sept. 17, 1179. Though sickly from birth, at the age of eight Hildegard was entrusted to Bl. Jutta (d. 1136), sister of Count Meginhard of Spanheim; at 15 she was clothed in the Benedictine habit and instructed in the religious life. At the death of Jutta, Hildegarde, then 38, became abbess. In 1147, accompanied by 18 religious, she transferred the monastery to Rupertsberg, near Bingen, a site that had been revealed to her. She founded a daughter convent at Eibingen prior to 1162.
When the visions she had experienced since childhood increased in later life, she confided in her confessor, Godfrey, and authorized him to submit the matter to the abbot and, later, to the archbishop of Mainz. A committee of theologians gave a favorable verdict on the authenticity of her visions and assigned the monk Volmar to act as her secretary. eugene iii appointed a committee to review her writings, and again a favorable report followed. Hildegarde's principal work, Scivias, is an account of 26 visions treating the relations between God and man in creation, Redemption, and the Church. Other writings include: lives of St. Disibod and St. Rupert; two books of medicine and natural history; hymns and canticles of which she wrote both words and music; 50 allegorical homilies; a morality play; for diversion, a language of her own composed of 900 words and an alphabet of 23 letters; and letters to popes, cardinals, bishops, abbots, kings and emperors, monks and nuns, and men and women of varied levels of society, both in Germany and abroad.
Hildegarde's influence extended beyond her monastery through her extensive correspondence and because of her travels throughout Germany and parts of Gaul. She spoke to people of all classes and walks of life, exhorting them to reform and to heed the prophecies and divine warnings entrusted to her. During her last years she was so ill that she had to be carried from place to place and was unable to stand upright. Nevertheless, she remained available to all who sought her, discussing perplexing questions, encouraging and exhorting her nuns, admonishing sinners, and writing continuously. Her earliest biographer, the monk Theodoric, declared her a saint; miracles, many recorded during her life, increased at her tomb. Twice the process to collect information for canonization was instituted but never completed. She is listed a saint in the Roman martyrology, and her cult is honored in several German dioceses. In recent years a considerable literature has grown up dealing with this remarkable mystic and pioneer in science. All manuscripts from the convent of Eibingen have been transferred to the state library at Wiesbaden.
Feast: Sept. 17.
Bibliography: hildegard, Mystical writings, ed. f. bowie and o. davies, tr. r. carver (New York 1990); The Letters of Hildegard of Bingen, tr. j. l. baird and r. k. ehrman, 2 v. (New York 1994–1998); Das Speyerer Kräuterbuch mit den Heilpflanzen Hildegards von Bingen, ed. b. fehringer (Würzburg 1994); The "Ordo virtutum" of Hildegard of Bingen, ed. a. e. davidson (Kalamazoo, Mich. 1992). godefridus and theoderic, The Life of the Holy Hildegard, tr. Latin to German a. fÜhrkÖtter, tr. German to English j. mcgrath (Collegeville, Minn. 1995); ed. including Canonizatio Sanctae Hildegardis Kanonisation der heiligen Hildegard, tr. m. klaes (Freiburg 1998). a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, rev. ed. h. thurston and d. attwater (New York 1956) 3:580–585. b. widmer, Heilsordnung und Zeitgeschehen in der Mystik Hildegards von Bingen (Basel 1955). g. hertzka, So heilt Gott (6th ed. Stein am Rhein 1978), medicine; Das Wunder der Hildegard-Medizin (Stein am Rhein 1978) tr. as Hildegard of Bingen's Medicine, tr. k. strehlow (Santa Fe, N.M. 1988). m. schrader and a. fÜhrkÖtter, Die Herkunft der Heiligen Hildegard (Mainz 1941, rev. 1981); Die Echtheit des Schrifttums der heiligen Hildegard von Bingen (Cologne 1956). i. ulrich, Hildegard von Bingen: Mystikerin, Heilerin, Geführtin der Engel (Munich 1990) tr. as Hildegard of Bingen: Mystic, Healer, Companion of the Angels, tr. l. m. maloney (Collegeville, Minn. 1993). l. moulinier, Le manuscrit perdu à Strasbourg (Paris 1995), scientific contributions. Hildegard von Bingen: Prophetin durch die Zeiten, ed. e. forster (Freiburg 1997). m. zÖller, Gott weist seinem Volk seine Wege: die theologische Konzeption des 'Liber Scivias' der Hildegard von Bingen (Tübingen 1997). c. burnett and p. dronke, eds., Hildegard of Bingen: The Context of Her Thought and Art (London 1998). s. flanagan, Hildegard of Bingen (2d ed. London 1998). m. b. mcinerney, ed., Hildegard of Bingen (New York 1998). r. pernoud, Hildegard of Bingen, tr. from Fr. p. duggan (New York 1998). w. podehl, ed., 900 Jahre Hildegard von Bingen: neuere Untersuchungen und literarische Nachweise (Wiesbaden 1998). h. schipperges, Die Welt der Hildegard von Bingen (Freiburg 1997), tr. as The World of Hildegard of Bingen: Her Life, Times, and Visions, tr. j. cumming (Collegeville, Minn.1998); Hildegard von Bingen: Healing and the Nature of the Cosmos, tr. j. a. broadwin (Princeton 1996). m. berger, Hildegard of Bingen: On Natural Philosophy and Medicine (Cambridge 1999), selections from Causae et curae. a. silvas, Jutta and Hildegard: The Biographical Sources (University Park, Pa. 1999). a. h. kinglenzmeier, Hildegard of Bingen: An Integrated Vision (Collegeville, Minn. 2001). r. craine, Hildegard: Prophet of the Cosmic Christ (New York 1997).
[m. d. barry]