Thursdays with Theologians – Hildegard von Bingen

Published January 25, 2018 by

On Thursdays I’ll be highlighting an influential Christian from Church history – theologians, missionaries, pastors, and musicians.

Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) was placed in the care of a convent in Bingen, Germany, when she was eight years old. Even at this early age, Hildegard had mystical experiences (in the form of visions), which characterized much of her impact on the church. As a female in the Middle Ages, Hildegard’s exceptional influence as a German mystic, abbess, teacher, preacher, and composer of sacred music earned her a distinctive place in church history. She has been both canonized (made a saint) and made a Doctor of the Church in the Catholic stream of Christianity.

Her collected writings include “Know the Way,” which took her ten years to complete, a book on medicine and natural healing, and a collection of music and poetry called “Symphonia Armonie Celestium Revelationum” – containing 77 liturgical songs and a musical drama about 17 personified virtues fighting the Devil over the soul of a maiden.

You can hear much of her music on Youtube nowadays, and read many of her works in print or online. Several movies have been made about her life, the most recent being 2009’s probably overly-dramatic Vision: From The Life Of Hildegard Von Bingen. Both a planet (898 Hildegard) and a plant (Hildegardia) have also been named after her.

“For it was the Word, which before all created things had no beginning, and after them shall have no end, which summoned all created things into being. (…) Therefore man is the work of God along with every creature. But man is also said to be the worker of the Divinity and a shadow of his mysteries, and should in all things reveal the Holy Trinity, for God made him in his image and likeness (Gn 1:26).”  – From her “Prologue to the Gospel of John.”

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