St. Hildegard of Bingen

St. Hildegard of Bingen, abbess, saint, and Doctor of the Church, was a woman not only of great sanctity, but many amazing accomplishments.  We visited her abbey at Eibingen on our Rhine Pilgrimage Cruise in 2023.

Early Years

Born the year before the crusade was proclaimed in 1098 AD, Hildegard was a sickly girl who began to experience visions at the age of three. Given as an oblate to the Benedictine men’s monastery of St. Disibod at eight years old, she was clothed in the Benedictine habit at the age of fifteen. She was mentored by a noblewoman named Jutta, who founded a community of women connected to the men’s monastery. When Jutta died, Hildegard became their abbess.

Founding New Monasteries

God told Hildegard to separate from the men’s community and found a new monastery at Rupertsberg, and then, fifteen years later, she founded another one at Eibingen, near modern-day Rüdesheim, where her relics reside today. She received continual mystic visions all throughout her life, but in humility declined to write them down until age 40 or so, when she was commanded to do so by the Lord, and that command was confirmed by spiritual directors.

A Woman of Many Talents

A prolific writer and woman of many gifts, St. Hildegard authored three vast volumes called the Scivias (short for “know the ways of the Lord”) of poetic, visionary theology of Creation and Redemption. She also wrote the oldest surviving morality play – a musical with 62 songs called the Ordo Virtutem, about the battle between virtue and vice. No one from the middle ages wrote more music, both lyrics and melody, that survives and is performed today. Hers is the most extensive surviving correspondence of the Middle Ages. She corresponded with popes, bishops, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Frederick Barbarossa, King Henry II of England, and many others. During her life, St. Hildegard also made four preaching tours around what is now Germany, speaking to clergy and laity and often denouncing the sins of royalty, nobility & clergy that she witnessed in her time. Since she worked in the monastery infirmary, St. Hildegard wrote extensively on holistic medicine and food. Cookbooks containing her recipes can still be purchased today. And if this were not enough, she studied and wrote in the sciences: studies of minerals, animals, plants. Her works contain the first recorded advice to use hops as a preservative in beer.

Hildegard of Bingen, Hildegard Von BingenAbove: image of the Angelic Hierarchy by St. Hildegard of Bingen.  Public domain.

Doctor of the Church

Though honored as a saint for many centuries, and referred to as such, St. Hildegard of Bingen was not formally canonized until 2012, when Pope Benedict the XVI made it “official.” Later that same year, Pope Benedict declared her a Doctor of the Church. Her feast day is celebrated on September 17th in the Roman Catholic Church.  Biography by Dr. Italy.


For more on St. Hildegard of Bingen by Dr. Italy, listen to his podcast from Catholic radio by clicking HERE.

Banner/featured image by an unknown artist, detail of the Hildegard window, St. Rochus Chapel, Bingen. Public domain.

No Comments

Post A Comment