Hildegard von Bingen, Hildegard von Bingen poetry, Christian, Christian poetry, Catholic poetry,  poetry,  poetry Hildegard von Bingen
Germany (1098 - 1179) Timeline
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Poems by Hildegard von Bingen
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Hildegard was born in Bermersheim, not far from Mainz, Germany to a noble family. She was the tenth and last child to be born to the family. At the age of eight, Hildegard was "given to God as a tithe" by placing her in the care of Jutta, a woman who had chosen a life of solitary seclusion. Hildegard would later describe Jutta as "uneducated," yet she taught the girl the basic skills of reading, as well as her initial practices in the spiritual life.

Hildegard's health was always fragile, but she had a rich interior life, by her own account receiving visions since early childhood. Hildegard describes one vision she had at the age of three of witnessing "a brightness so great that [her] soul trembled."

This experience of divine light was repeated and magnified when she was in her forties. She wrote:

"When I was forty-two years and seven months old, the heavens opened and a blinding light of extraordinary brilliance flooded my head. It blossomed like a fire in my heart and breast, not burning but warming… and all at once I understood the inner meaning of the holy books."

This was a light that remained a part of her perception throughout her life. Even in her seventies, Hildegard described it as a light that seemed to permeate everything without hindering her ability to see normally, as well.

She is said to have had a natural gift of clairvoyance and the ability predict the future. She was also widely respected as a healer and herbalist, having written works on natural history and the medicinal uses of plants.

Illness was intimately linked with Hildegard's mystical life. Bouts of illness seemed to be brought on by the tensions that existed between her divine promptings and the limitations of the roles allowed to her as a woman and a nun. She had especially severe illnesses occur prior to the major decisions in her life.

Hildegard's early life was relatively quiet. A small community of women gathered around Jutta, that eventually joined the Benedictine order. Hildegard herself took monastic vows in her teens. When Jutta died in 1136, Hildegard was elected to lead the monastic community.

It wasn't until she was in her forties, however, that Hildegard began to gain notoriety for her visions. She was surprised to receive an inner prompting to "tell and write" her visions. She initially resisted and was soon bedridden as the inner conflict played out. Eventually she relented and began to dictate her visions.

The first work she produced was Scivias, a description of a cycle of visions about the relationship of humanity and nature with God. She also composed a collection of music and poetry called the Symphonia. She also wrote extensively about medicine and herbs.

Hildegard's fame quickly spread, bringing pilgrims and the curious, eventually overwhelming the capacity of the small community. A new, larger monastery was built between 1148 and 1150 in Rupertsberg near Bingen.

Throughout the 1150's, Hildegard made several teaching tours through the Rhineland.

Although Hildegard had received blessings from Church authorities for most of her work, toward the end of her life she ran into conflicts for, among other things, allowing an excommunicated man who had died to be buried in consecrated ground. She refused to have the body dug up and, as a result, she was not allowed to take the eucharist -- a deep wound for a devout Catholic. This ban was eventually lifted near the end of her life.

Poems by Hildegard von Bingen

Recommended Books: Hildegard von Bingen

Symphonia: A Critical Edition of the Symphonia armonie celstium revelationum German Mystical Writings: Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart, Jacob Boehme, and others Hildegard of Bingen's Book of Divine Works with Letters and Songs Women of Wisdom: A Journey of Enlightenment by Women of Vision Through the Ages The Book of the Rewards of Life: Liber Vitae Meritorum
Creation and Christ: The Wisdom of Hildegard of Bingen Hildegard of Bingen: An Integrated Vision Hildegard of Bingen: Scivias: (Classics of Western Spirituality) Hildegard of Bingen: The Woman of Her Age Hildegard of Bingen
Hildegard Von Bingen's Mystical Visions: Translated from Hildegard's Scivias Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen Secrets of God: Writings of Hildegard of Bingen Hildegard of Bingen Sacred Voices: Essential Women's Voices Through the Ages

Related Links

Hildegard of Bingen

A good online biography, with bibliography and discography.

Texts and Translations of Hildegard von Bingen's Gregorian Chants

Many of Hildegard of Bingen's chants online, in both Latin and translated into English. Good list of links.

The Illuminations of Hildegard von Bingen

Several of Hildegard of Bingen's stunning mystical artwork.

Hildegard of Bingen

A brief biography and several samples of her writings online.

Catholic Encyclopedia: Saint Hildegard

An extended biography online.

Lecture on Hildegard of Bingen

The text of a lecture exploring the mysicism of Hildegard of Bingen

Mystical Writers: Frauenmystics

A brief biography of Hildegard of Bingen in English, accompanied by a selection of verses in Latin and German.
Hildegard von Bingen