Hildegard von Bingen: Midieval Advisor and Multitalent

Let’s take it back in time for this informative article, shall we? Today’s article will bring you back to the Middle Ages as we present Hildegard von Bingen to you. 📝

Next to being a nun, Hildegard von Bingen is mostly known for her visions of the Holy Light. This made her a prophet who was well respected by many who sought her advice. She used her influence for many different things. 👑⛪️

Find out more about the life of Hildegard von Bingen by reading full article!

Hildegard von Bingen | *1098 | † 17-09-1179 | Roman Empire (Germany)| Nun, Prophet, Writer, Composer

She was destined for a religious life before birth… who could have known she would become so successful in her life that was determined for her without her knowing? How can a woman, a nun, become so well-known and respected that mighty kings and emperors asked her for advice? That is what happened to Hildegard von Bingen. 

Hildegard was born in 1098 as the tenth child from her parents, who were wealthy nobility in Bermersheim. Her parents decided to devote Hildegard to religion, to the Christian church. At the early age of eight, the custody of the young girl was given to Jutta von Sponheim, an abbess at the Benedictine monastery of Disibodenberg. The community of religious women Jutta was leading, grew bigger and bigger. When Jutta had died in 1136, Hildegard followed in her footsteps and became the new abbess. 

From an early age, Hildegard received visions from the Holy Light, as she called it. The Holy Light gave her the mission to write them down, and she did so. Her first visionary work, Scivias (1141-1151), caused her to become recognized for her visions. At the Synode of Trier (1148) she is recognized as a prophet by the Church. 

Hildegard was also an entrepreneur of sorts, because in her life, she founded two new monasteries. In 1150, she moved with her nuns to Rupertsberg. The monks at the monastery of Disibodenberg were not happy with this move, because Hildegard brought the monastery money and recognition and fame. There is an ongoing conflict between Hildegard the abbess and the abbot of Disibodenberg, who came to an agreement in 1158. In this agreement, the nuns at Rupertsberg became almost independent. They got their own possessions and wealth to live from, and the monastery fell under the immediate jurisdiction of the archdiocese of Mainz. The nuns were only dependent on the monks at Disibodenberg for their pastoral care. The monastery at Rupertsberg was only for women from the nobility, but Hildegard also founded another monastery that was accessible for all women, at Eibingen, in 1165.

After her first book about her visions, Scivias, she wrote two more books about her vision with the help of monks. These works are called liber vitae meritorum (1158-1163) and Liber Divinorum operum (1163-1173). The number of three, three books, is a connection to the Holy Trinity of the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. Hildegard also composed a big number of liturgical songs and wrote about plants and their medical use. 

Hildegard was respected by many because of her prophetical qualities. Many important persons, both worldly and religious, sought her advice for pressing matters. They believed that the visions brought her knowledge on how to handle certain cases. To name a few names she corresponded with: Bernardus van Clairveaux, Frederick Barbarossa and the popes in Rome. These were all very influential men with a lot of power, and through her correspondence with them, Hildegard had an indirect influence on events happening in Europe.

So, this nun, Hildegard, destined by her parents to follow a religious life, became a real celebrity during her lifetime with considerable influence. Even though she lived away from society, visitors and correspondence with influential people brought her knowledge while her visions helped her get recognition as a prophet and writer. She founded two new monasteries and had indirect power on some of the most influential men during her lifetime.

Credits:

Author: Veerle Klaassen
Image: William Marshall

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hildegard_von_Bingen._Line_engraving_by_._Marshall._Wellcome_V0002761.jpg


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