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The Voice of the Divine: Exploring the Life and Work of Hildegard von Bingen in Medieval Europe

Hildegard von Bingen is probably one of the most fascinating figures from the middle ages. She was born September 1098 and died in September 1179, in Bingen am Rhein, Germany. She was then 81 years old!

To this very day, Hildegard continues to fascinate and inspire both new and past readers. Her strength, perseverance and out of this world talents, are just incredible. Her musical and written materials are voluminous! Whereas her music is described as 'liquid light', 'the voice of heavens' and 'pure inspiration', her written works are described as 'highly intelligent' and show how much knowledge Hildegard possessed.

Hildegard von Bingen was, in addition;

  • A mystic and visionary

  • Author of many volumes of books on: herbs, spirituality, theology, medicine, philosopy and botanics. (Her books on botanics is still being used by homeopaths today.)

  • A poet

  • Composer

  • Supervisor several famous and non religious illustrations

  • Writer of one of the middle ages first plays on morality called Ordo Virtutum

  • Writer of around 400 letters. The largest body of letters we have from the middle-ages.

Source: google
Hildegard von Bingen under Divine Inspiration. Pinterest. Copyright unknown

The material Hildegard von Bingen has left behind her is literaly huge and would take a full lifetime to study it all in depth. The first picture show's Hildegard receiving her divine inspiration and visions while dictating to her scribe and secretary. The 'divine inspiration' is depicted as the flames above her head (so no, she's not being attacked by an octupus). The illustration is from her Liber Scivas.

I would like to briefly direct the readers thoughts toward The Hidden Camino, and ask you to notice the towers on the illustrations of her.

In The Hidden Camino, I claim that towers symbolize a female as a spiritual and religious authority and leader. Hildegard is indeed an example of this theory.

Blessed Hildegard, Saint Hildegard and Sibyl of the Rhine, were the names she went by. A Sibyl, I might add, is a term used for female oracle and prophetess; someone who receives inspiration, knowledge and answers from 'the divine Source of Light'. A term I think is very appropriate for Hildegard as she has often been called the 'Voice of liquid light'.

 Source: google
Hildegard holding her powerful Church and legacy. Copyright unknown.

Hildegard became an abbess in a Benedictine monastery quite early in her career. Here, she was elected a Magistra in 1136 and founded the monasteries of Rupertsberg and Eibingen. Both places are vital stops for the pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela in North and West of Europe.

The wonderful illustration below of Hildegard states directly that she is a 'prophetissa' as it refers to her music and books. I'm also sure many can make an interesting theory as to why there is a French lily. As mentioned in The Hidden Camino, a French lily is for many the symbol of the descendants of Mary Magdalene and Jesus (but that is only a theory.)

As Hildegard von Bingen was German, I have obviously heard her name mentioned many times throughout my life. Today I'm sad we never learnt about her, her life or all of her achievements, in school. I would have loved learning about her music, authorship and visions.

I remember that whenever a book referred to Hildegard, I would always feel a little chill. However, it wasn't until much later in my life that I finally started to explore her extraordinary legacy and life.

Today I find great fascination in the legacy Hildegard left behind, and I always listen to her music whenever I need inspiration. Maybe you will do the same now?

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