Saint Hildegard of Bingen

Saint Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard of Bingen, (1098 – 17 September 1179), also known as Saint Hildegard and Sibyl of the Rhine, was a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath.

She is considered to be the founder of scientific natural history in Germany. Hildegard was elected magistra by her fellow nuns in 1136; she founded the monasteries of Rupertsberg in 1150 and Eibingen in 1165. One of her works as a composer, the Ordo Virtutum, is an early example of liturgical drama and arguably the oldest surviving morality play.

She wrote theological, botanical, and medicinal texts, as well as letters, liturgical songs, and poems, while supervising miniature illuminations in the Rupertsberg manuscript of her first work, Scivias. She is also noted for the invention of a constructed language known as Lingua Ignota[source]

In addition to her devout religious life she was also a healer and herbalist. She wrote two texts of medieval medicine of herbalism, moxabustion, bleeding and other types of cures. These texts also discuss the theory of the Four Humors, the four vital liquids in the human body, each corresponding to one of the Four Elements, and which is the basis of all premodern Western medicine.

One principle in Hildegard’s works is viriditas, usually translated as “greenness” or “greening power” and interpreted as meaning growth or life. Hildegard wrote that God transmits life into plants, animals, and gems. People eat plants and animals and acquire gems, thus obtaining viriditas. They, in turn, give that life out by practicing virtue, becoming an important link in the chain of being. Hildegard considered the emerald the chief of jewels because of its green color, and one of her favorite herbs was fennel, which in ancient rites was used to honor Adonis, the Greek god of vegetation. [source]

She experienced mystical visions from a young age which inspired her music compositions, writings and paintings.

Hildegard spoke openly of her profound mystical experiences at a time when this put her at risk for heresey. As a nun, she left her home monastery and founded two new ones in a different towns, something almost unheard of for any devotee of the Church, much less a woman.

She is well-known for the beautiful music she composed, which her nuns would sing as part of their devotional prayer, and enter into mystical ecstasy. These pieces are still performed and recorded today.

Quotes

“Holy persons draw to themselves all that is earthly.  The earth is at the same time mother,
She is mother of all that is natural, mother of all that is human.
She is the mother of all, for contained in her are the seeds of all.”

“The marvels of God are not brought forth from one’s self. Rather, it is more like a chord, a sound that is played. The tone does not come out of the chord itself, but rather, through the touch of the Musician. I am, of course, the lyre and harp of God’s kindness.”

“‘With my mouth,’ God says, ‘I kiss my own chosen creation. I uniquely, lovingly, embrace every image I have made out of the earth’s clay. With a fiery spirit I transform it into a body to serve all the world.'”

“I do not know myself, either in body or soul. And I consider myself as nothing. I reach out to the living God and turn everything over to the Divine.”