The Sites The canonization of Hildegard of Bingen is a significant development for the Universal Church. I am delighted that this outstanding person, who is already held in high esteem in our country, has now received further recognition. The Abbey of St Hildegard at Eibingen has become an important place of pilgrimage and a Hildegard Centre in Germany. I am grateful that the veneration of St Hildegard in the Benedictine Order, at the Abbey of St Hildegard and in the dioceses of Mainz, Trier and Limburg bears such abundant fruit. Robert Zollitsch Archbishop em. of Freiburg Disibodenberg Hildegard began her life at Disibodenberg on 1 November 1112. The women in the hermitage followed a strict monastic life according to the Rule of Saint Benedict. Hildegard received a well-founded, broad monastic education from her mentor, Jutta of Sponheim: She learned to read, write and sing, acquired comprehensive knowledge of the Scriptures, but also closely studied nature, in particular herbs and plants. At Disibodenberg she wrote her first book, Liber Scivias. In 1147/48 Pope Eugene III was residing at Trier and heard about Hildegard. He had her visionary gift examined by a commission and confirmed it. In a letter he bade her continue with her writing. For Hildegard this was endorsement, encouragement and stimulation. For those around her it was definitive proof that the Magistra of Disibodenberg really was “God’s trumpet”. While all of this was happening, Hildegard also pursued her intention of founding her own monastery. Rupertsberg Hildegard purchases land at Rupertsberg near Bingen and with her nuns built a monastery based on her own concept. They relocated between 1147 and 1151. A charter in the name of Henry, archbishop of Mainz, dated 1 May 1152, documents the consecration of the church. There was a dispute with the abbot of Disibodenberg concerning Rupertsberg’s independence and its possessions. Hildegard made use of her good connections and received deeds which largely safeguard her monastery’s independence. In 1632 Rupertsberg was destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War. Eibingen Hildegard’s fame drew many to seek admission at Rupertsberg. Soon the monastery was too small. She bought a vacated monastery at Eibingen. It was rededicated in 1165. Hildegard also became abbess of this second monastery and crossed the Rhine twice a week to visit the sisters at Eibingen. In 1802, as a result of the Secularization, the monastery was dissolved; all its possessions were lost. In 1831 the monastic church became the parish church of Eibingen. New Foundation of the Abbey of St Hildegard In 1904, after a four years of building, 14 nuns of the Abbey of St Gabriel in Prague move into the newly built monastery high above the Rhine. The monastery is raised to the full status of an abbey and endowed with all rights and privileges of Hildegard’s former monasteries. It is exempt from local episcopal authority and is placed directly under the jurisdiction of the Holy See. The community of the Abbey of St Hildegard regards the study of and care for Hildegard’s legacy as its pre-eminent concern, passing it on to contemporaries as a timelessly relevant message.
The Works Saint Hildegard was an eminent polymath, who left a substantial body of highly diverse work. She was a nun, but equally a scientist, a theologian and a philosopher, a musician and poet, and a physician, particularly skilled in methods of natural healing. Her whole work aims at directing people towards God and to encourage them to live a life of faith. The seven most important works of Hildegard of Bingen: Hildegard’s teaching aims at guiding humans onto the way of salvation, by showing them that out of love God has already made His way to them and continues to walk with them: At the creation, through the incarnation and throughout history. For me, therefore, it is first and foremost an intellectual challenge to grasp Hildegard’s doctrine of God, man and the world in the philosophical-theological context of the twelfth century and to make it accessible for us today. At the same time she is my mentor in the conduct of life, because she teaches me to find the right balance for myself - which is what the end leads every human being to happiness. Maura Zátonyi OSB Abbey of St Hildegard LIBER SCIVIAS – Know the Ways (1141-1151) In Hildegard’s first theological work, in which she records her visions and which spread her fame during her lifetime, she discusses on the one hand God’s way to man in creation, redemption and the course of history and on the other man’s ways to God. LIBER VITAE MERITORUM – The Book of Life’s Merits (1158-1163) The second of Hildegard’s main works reveals in dramatic dialogues between 35 virtues and vices the inseparable interrelation of the cosmos, salvation history and human moral conduct. It becomes clear that personal decisions are part of the cosmic struggle between good and evil. LIBER DIVINORUM OPERUM – The Book of Divine Works (1163-1170) Hildegard’s later work deals with the definition of the relational concept of God, the world and man. Once again her main themes and concerns are summarized in a sophisticated sweep. CAUSAE ET CURAE – Cause and Cure of Illnesses (1150-1158) In this book Hildegard describes a multitude of illnesses, their causes and symptoms and then gives instructions for treatment using natural remedies. Particular significance is ascribed to the advice on prevention of diseases and for a healthy and moderate way of life. PHYSICA – Wholesomeness of Creation – Natural and Effective Power of Things (1150-1158) This work describes in nine chapters the powers of nature and their effect on healthy and on sick people: herbs, elements, trees, gemstones, fish, birds, land animals, reptiles and metals. Time and again Hildegard emphasizes that the nature of visible things points to an invisible reality. SYMPHONIAE – Songs (1151-1170) This book contains 77 chants and songs for which Hildegard composed both the music and the words, as well as the musical drama “Ordo Virtutum” (The Dance of the Virtues), which was first performed at the consecration of the monastic church at Rupertsberg. EPISTOLAE – Letters (1147–1179) This collection of letters is comprises of some 390 of Hildegard’s letters addressed to her contemporaries, some well-known, others less well-known. Some personal but also many universally valid messages are found here. Hildegard reveals herself as an attentive witness and observer of current affairs and admonishes clergy and secular officials with a true awareness of her prophetic mission.