Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I continually thank my God for you because of the favor he has bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, in whom you have been richly endowed with every gift of speech and knowledge. 1 Corinthians 1:3-5
Hildegard was the tenth child of a German noble family, born in 1098. She was tutored from age 5 by a holy woman. At age 18, she entered a Benedictine Monastery. There, she deeply contemplated the mysteries of God and is known as a mystic and visionary. In fact, she had begun having visions at age 3. These appear in a book called Scivias (Know the Ways) which her confessor had directed her to write.
When Pope Eugene read the book, he asked her to continue writing. She wrote two more theological books: The Book of the Merits of Life and the Book of Divine Works. But she also understood botanical medicinal herbs, wrote lovely chants – both words and music, created a morality play, and is considered by many to be the founder of German scientific natural history.
Her Sisters elected her Abbess of the Monastery in 1136, and she founded two other monasteries, one in 1150 and another in 1165. Needless to say, people who knew Hildegard’s talents wanted advice from her, and she responded in over 300 letters.
Like mystics throughout the ages, Hildegard saw the unity in all of creation, something that escaped many people in her own time – and many today. She stood for the dignity of women at a time when that was unpopular, courageously speaking truth to power. She praised God’s healing power, what she called the greening power of God.
Hildegard’s visions saw human beings as “living sparks” of God’s love. She wrote of God speaking to her: “I am the supreme and fiery force, who sets all living sparks alight… I am also the fiery life of the essence of divinity; I flame above the beauty of the fields and I shine in the waters and I burn in the sun, the moon, and the stars.” We can thank God for Hildegard’s presence not only in the past but in the current world where we are sometimes estranged from nature and nature’s Creator. Let us breathe in the healing life of our Creator’s love.
While Hildegard of Bingen has been venerated as a saint in many parts of the world since her death in 1179, Pope Benedict the XVI extended her canonization to the whole church in 2012 and, in the same year, proclaimed her a Doctor of the Church.
St. Hildegard of Bingen is our first Ornament of Grace.
Observing the Beautiful Ornaments
Is there an aspect of creation that especially reflects the love God has for you?
As Hildegard wrote down her prayer experiences, can you do the same?