Hildegard of Bingen
Hildegard of Bingen’s exact birthdate is uncertain, but she is believed to have been born in 1098. She was born in Bemersheim (Böckelheim) in West Franconia which is now Germany. She was born the tenth child of a prosperous family, and was sickly from birth. From the time Hildegard was young, she claimed to have experienced visions. Some scholars think that in 1106, at the age of eight, her parents sent her to a 400-year old Benedictine monastery and put her under the care of a noblewoman named Jutta. This is believed because it is documented in her vita, but there is also a known date of enclosure in 1112 at which time she would be fourteen, not eight.
Jutta taught Hildegard to read and write. Jutta also became the abbess of the convent, which resulted in other young noblewomen coming to the convents. The convents were often places of learning and a welcome home to ...view middle of the document...
In 1147, Hildegard was still concerned about whether or not her visions should be published. Because of this, she wrote to Bernard, the abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Clairvaux. He responded in favor of publishing.
In 1148, while she was still working on Scivias, Hildegard decided to move the convent to Rupertsberg, where it was on its own and not under supervision of the male house. Because of this, Hildegard had more freedom as an administrator, and she traveled frequently in Germany and France. Her claim was that she was following God’s order in making the move, firmly opposing her abbot’s position. The move was completed in 1150. The Rupertsberg convent grew to as many as fifty women. The area became a popular burial site for the wealthy residents. The women who joined were of wealthy backgrounds.
Hildegard wrote a series of non-visionary works such as Ordo virtutem (Play of the Virtues) which was a play that grew out of a passage at the end of Scivias; a medical encyclopedia, and notes for a medical handbook. This was also during the time when Hildegard first collected her songs as Symphonia armonie celestium revelationum, meaning Symphony of the harmony of heavenly revelation.
Around 1158, Hildegard began to write the second of her visionary works, Liber vitae meritorum (Book of Life’s merits). Also, she began a series of travels that would over the next thirteen years taker her to men and women’s monasteries and to urban catherdrals to preach to religious and secular clergy. Hildegard’s last major work was Liber divonorum operum (Book of the divine work), which was on the relationship of humans to God and to each other. This work took over ten years to complete and is said to represent her most mature thought though it has not been entirely translated.
Little of Hildegard’s last years is known. She completed her last preaching tour in around 1171, when she was 73. On September 17, 1179, Hildegard died in Rupertsberg, Germany, left to be known as a medieval prophet, a healer, and a composer.