Hildegard von Bingen

1089 - 1179

Holy Spirit, The Life That Gives Life,
You are the cause of all movement;
You are the breath of all creatures;
You are the salve that purifies our souls;
You are the ointment that heals our wounds;
You are the fire that warms our hearts;
You are the light that guides our feet.
Let all the world praise you.

A 12th century abbess, Hildegard of Bingen was the most celebrated woman of her age as a visionary, naturalist, playwright, poet and composer, as well as politician. Although not yet canonized, Hildegard has been beatified, and is frequently referred to as St. Hildegard.

This web page used to say that Hildegard was tried by the church as a heretic in 1148. It was brought to my attention by Denise Starkey, a Dominican sister and Hildegard scholar, that Hildegard of Bingen was not tried as a heretic. I asked Denise if Hildegard had ever come close to being tried, and here is Denise's response:

"I believe that Hildegard had a number of encounters with the church as she was quite willing to confront the popes, bishops and emperors who she felt needed to be set back on the right course. She received perpetual protection from Emp. Barbarossa which did not stop her from fileting him with words. In the last year of her life, her convent was put under interdict (no music/eucharist) for supposedly burying an unconfessed soldeier in her cemetary; however, she fought the powers that be and that was lifted. That was the closest the church ever came to sanctioning her, to my knowledge."

Thanks, so much, Denise Starkey, for that input.

Check out HildeGirls

You can find contemporary recordings of Hildegard's music and poetry from The Ladyslipper Catalog. Hildegard viewed her compositions as having been divinely inspired and, like all sacred music, one of the highest forms of human activity as it aspires to the sounds of the heavenly spheres and angel choirs. Many female divinities figured prominently in much of Hildegard's work: the Virgin Maria, the virgins who inhabit heavenly realms at the end of time, St. Ursula, and the virtue of Wisdom, traditionally considered a feminine Deity.

"Underneath all the texts, all the sacred psalms and canticles, these watery varieties of sounds and silences, terrifying, mysterious, whirling and sometimes gestating and gentle must somehow be felt in the pulse, ebb, and flow of the music that sings in me. My new song must float like a feather on the breath of God." -- Hildegard von Bingen

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