Hildegard: A Saint Eight Centuries in the Making

Hildegard von Bingen is one of the most fascinating figures I learned about in any of my religion classes in college. And I enjoy reading her work.

hildegard & volmar

The visionary abbess Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) has long been regarded as a saint, with her feast day of September 17, yet she was only officially canonized in May 2012. Why did it take the Vatican over eight centuries to canonize this great polymath, composer, and theologian?

The first attempt to canonize Hildegard began in 1233, but failed as over fifty years had passed since her death and most of the witnesses and beneficiaries of her reported miracles were deceased. Her theological writings were deemed too dense and difficult for subsequent generations to understand and soon fell into obscurity, as did her music. According to Barbara Newman, Hildegard was remembered mainly as an apocalyptic prophet. But in the age of Enlightenment, prophets and mystics went out of fashion. Hildegard was dismissed as a hysteric. Even the authorship of her own work was disputed as pundits began to suggest her books…

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I'm a bibliophile who loves collecting books. Definite cat person. Amateur historian and major geek, who loves all things Tolkien and Star Trek. I'm also fluent in German.

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