Biography For me Hildegard is a strong, prophetic figure – a window to heaven, to transcendence. She teaches us that the love of God, love of creation, love of humankind and love of the Church belong together. Hildegard’s criticism was always constructive, it was rooted in her love of the Church and helped to build up the Church. Her passionate dedication urges all Christians, clergy and religious to be credible. Saint Hildegard is a mentor and companion for me. Clementia Killewald OSB Abbess, Abbey of St Hildegard 1098 ca. 1106 1112 1136 1141–1151 1147/1148 1150 1147–1179 1158 1158–1170/1 1158–1173 1163 1165 1173 1174/1175 1178/1179 1179 1180–1190 1227 1632 1802 1904 2012 Hildegard is born in Rhine-Hesse (region southwest of Mainz) Hildegard is placed in Jutta of Sponheim’s care for education Hildegard enters an enclosed cell at Disibodenberg Death of Jutta of Sponheim Hildegard is elected Magistra Work on her first book, Liber Scivias, composition of songs and a musical drama Pope Eugene III confirms Hildegard’s visionary gift Move to the new monastery at Rupertsberg near Bingen Extensive correspondence with popes, bishops ... Deed of ownership of Rupertsberg Public preaching at Mainz, Trier, Cologne and other places Work on her books Liber Vitae Meritorum, Physica and Causae et Curae and Liber Divinorum Operum Meeting with the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa at Ingelheim Hildegard founds a second monastery at Eibingen, of which she is also abbess. Hildegard’s secretary Volmar dies The monk Godfrey begins to write the Life of Hildegard Hildegard comes into conflict with the diocesan administrators of Mainz Hildegard dies on 17 September The monk Theodoric completes the Life of Hildegard First petition for her canonization The monastery at Rupertsberg is destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War Dissolution of the monastery at Eibingen during the Secularization The Abbey of St Hildegard is newly founded Canonization and Proclamation of Hildegard of Bingen as a Doctor of the Church
The Twelfth Century Hildegard was born at a time of upheaval and far-reaching changes. The climate was warming, the population increased. New arable land was claimed, rural settlements and towns develop. People became more mobile. New methods in agriculture and specialisation in craftsmanship and trade facilitate the better provision of people. Goods were transported over long distances. The guilds, a new form of society, came into existence. The use of coinage gradually replaces barter. Written documentation in everyday life attains a higher significance. The cultural life of this era is characterized by the flowering of Romanesque art with the Gothic period beginning in France. First universities are founded in Paris and Bologna at an age when providing access to higher education is still the privilege of monasteries. The crusades accelerate the encounter of different cultures. Writings in Greek and Arabic (for instance on philosophical and medical subjects) reach the Western world. For me Hildegard of Bingen is a woman, who was able to realize her talents and bring them to fruition in a very special way, which in her day required tremendous courage and profound faith in God, but also confidence in herself. Were she alive today, she might perhaps be a brilliant scientist or a Mother Teresa. In her, both came together. Her inquisitiveness about the world that surrounded her and which she wanted to understand, as well as her dedication to the infirm and those in need. She rejoiced in God’s creation, but was stern with those who would not respect and honour it. Margarethe von Trotta The Church, too, is undergoing change. In 1054 Rome and Byzantium seperate. Christendom is now divided into a Western and an Eastern Church. The Investiture Controversy rages between pope and emperor over the right to appoint bishops. The first crusade sets off for the Holy Land in 1096. Deplorable internal conditions (simony, married clergy, moral decline and excessive wealth) present a threat to the Church. This leads to a change of thought in the Church and a desire for reform: the Gregorian Reform, the foundation of new orders, itinerant preachers, the sect of the Cathars are all reactions to the condition of the Church. When she was about 14, Hildegard‘s parents committed her to the monastic life. Hard though this is to imagine today, in Hildegard’s time this was a privilege. To be able to enter a monastery was an opportunity open to a select few – most often members of the nobility. – Only life in a monastery offered the possibility of an excellent education and continued training.