Sister Gabriele of the Benedictine monastery on the Mount of Olives sent us this article for the feast of Saint Hildegard von Bingen.

hildegard

Born in 1098 into an aristocratic German family, Hildegard von Bingen was given, when still a child, into the care of a reclusive hermit Jutta von Sponheim, who lived near a Benedictine abbey. This fact, habitual at the time, assured that she received a good and rooted education. Sacred Scripture, the Fathers of the Church, as well as philosophy, science and music… all became familiar to her. It was also the liturgy that formed her… as her life work later testifies.

Over time, a real community of women religious began to take form and after the death of Jutta von Sponheim, Hildegard was elected the superior. Shortly thereafter, her extraordinary brilliance was widely recognized. A great mystic, she was able to formulate and write down her visions in fantastic images, thus allowing the reader to perceive the unfathomable depths of the mystery of God. She perceived in the entire universe a mirror of the love of God and this too in all aspects of human life, from the most spiritual to the most earthly. In all she found meaning and importance.

Many came to seek her advice and in many of her letters the prophetic element is clear. With frankness and clarity, she expressed her opinions, not without humor and with great care for the human person. She even undertook a number of voyages in order to preach in different towns – an almost unheard of practice for a woman religious at that time. Her influence was widespread and her authority recognized as she corresponded with Popes, bishops and princes. However, she also encountered opposition and was even censured together with her community for a time. This meant depriving the monastic community of its very heart – the public celebration of the liturgy and receiving communion.

However, throughout her life and even over the centuries since then she has been a voice that has aided many people to find their way to the Gospel and make spiritual progress. This was affirmed and broadened by the Universal Church when in 2012 Hildegard von Bingen was registered in the universal catalogue of saints and declared a doctor of the Church.

Listen to her music here