The Benedictine Abbess, Hildegard of Bingen, is remembered as a musician, a poet, a scientist, and a preacher. She is also remembered as a woman who performed the works of mercy. Poor, elderly women were offered shelter and care as permanent guests in the abbey she led. Many people found medical care within her abbey’s walls.
Since her death late in the twelfth century, she has been honored as a saint. But her formal status within the church calendar has only been regularized in this century. On 7 October 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named her a Doctor of the Church. So Hildegard never went through the formal process of canonization. In this case vox populi, vox Dei, the voice of the people is the voice of God. The church ratified what its people have known for centuries.
Hildegard knew God in many ways, including through the gifts of nature. She wrote of the Virgin as “Mary, the bequeather/seed-source of God.” Hildegard writes, “Your flesh held joy, like grass upon which dew falls, pouring its life-green into it.”
She writes of God’s Word in all creation,
“No creature has meaning
without the Word of God.
God’s Word is in all creation, visible and invisible.
The Word is living, being,
Spirit, all verdant
This Word flashes out in
This is how the spirit is in
the flesh — the Word is indivisible from God.”
If you want to read more of Hildegard’s writings, consider one of these books: Symphonia: A critical edition of the Symphonia armonie celestium revelationum translated by B.J.Newman, Scivias / Hildegard of Bingen translated by Columba Hart and Jane Bishop (The Classics of Western spirituality), Women in Praise of the Sacred; edited by Jane Hirshfield, Teachings of the Christian Mystics; edited by Andrew Harvey