In music class, I gave a powerpoint presentatation (that's a mouthful!) on Hildegard of Bingen. I found her a very fascinating woman.
Hildegard of Bingen
- She lived from 1098-1179. (a long time!)
- She was the 10th child, so she was tithed to the church at birth.
- At age 8, she went to live with an anchoress, Jutta. Anchors pledge their lives to God and live in a small room with only a window to the outside. Funeral rites are given before they enter the room because they are considered "dead to the world" however they do receive visitors whom they can teach. Hildegard was fortunate to be taught by Jutta.
- At age 15, she became a nun and by 38, Hildegard was Abbess of the convent.
- At age 42, she began having migraines and said "The heavens were opened and a blinding light of exceptional brilliance flowed through my entire brain.”
- She wrote 2 books on her visions:
Scivias (know the paths) which lists her 25 visions of salvation
- and De Operatione Dei (of God’s Activities) also known as Liber Divinorum Operum (Book of Divine Works).
- She founded a new convent in Bingen with piped in water. (very cutting edge in the Middle Ages!)
- She went on preaching tours and wrote her sermons down, so great was their popularity, especially her commentaries on the Gospels & Athanasian Creed.
- She was known as "Dear Abbey of the 12th century." There are over 100 letters to emperors, clergy & nobility still in existence. She always humbled herself to be a poor, uneducated woman. (I believe this tremendously increased her audience in the male dominated society she lived in. They weren't intimidated by her and she earned their great respect when they listened to her sage advice.)
- She wrote lots of religious music. (over 72 songs are still around!)
She wrote the Ordo Virtutum (play of the 16 virtues) set to music
Symphonia Armonie Celestium Revelationum (Symphony of the harmony of celestial revelations). She said: “There is the Music of Heaven in all things and we have forgotten how to hear it until we sing.” and “Words are the body and the music the spirit.”
- She wrote plainchants (Gregorian chants) but her music was highly melismatic (several notes per syllable) and she thought it was what angels would sound like.
- She was a humanitarian and wrote the Liber Vitae Meritorum (Book of Life’s Merits).
She believed in social justice - equality for all. She was against forcing children into monasteries (personal reasons??). She praised virginity as the highest level of spiritual life. She was against homosexuality and the misuse of carnal pleasures. However, she described the female orgasm in her books!
- She combined Science, Art and Religion.
- She wrote the Liber Subtilatum where she went into great details about the four parts of the body:
Fire - heat- choler / choleric
Air - dryness - blood / sanguine
Water - moisture - phlegm / phlegmatic
Earth - cold -black bile / melancholy
We still use her word descriptions: choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic, and melancholy, today.
Part of the Liber Subtilatum was a medical encyclopedia called Physica, where she describes 230 plants, 63 trees, 45 animals, various stones, & metals in detail, with regards to qualities, medicinal values, and applications.
The second half of the Liber Subtilatum was a collection of notes:
Part 1 – external world (human health)
Part 2 – illness & causes
Parts 3 & 4 – cures
Part 5 – symptoms
I get a kick out of the disclaimer she added:
“The medicament given below were prescribed by God to be used against the above named ailments. Either they will heal the person or he will die if God does not will that he be healed.”
She is gaining in popularity, nowadays. Groups are recording her music and songs. Her books have been translated from Latin. She has been beatified and sainthood is pending. September 17 is her official Feast day.
Well, I'm sure I bored you to death, but I found her very fascinating!
Lady Grinning Soul - song: Lady Grinning Soul, artist: David Bowie, album: Aladdin Sane