The Feast of Saint Hildegard

“The Six Days of Creation” illumination from Hildegard of Bingen’s “Scivias”

Today, September 17, 2012, is the first feast day for Saint Hildegard of Bingen, as a saint recognized universally within the Catholic Church.

Hildegard passed away on this day in 1179. It took 833 years for it to become an “official” saint’s day in the Catholic Calendar. Pope Benedict XVI recognized Hildegard as a saint just this past May.

In another 20 days — on October 7 — Hildegard will be declared a Doctor of the Church, joining with Juan of Avila and only thirty-three other saints, mystics and theologians to have received this honor.

So think about Hildegard today, and if your faith allows it, offer her a prayer. Consider her ideas about viriditas — the “green vigor” or life-force found in all living things, that according to Saint Hildegard comes from the Holy Spirit and bestows life, fecundity and a holy moistness to all things. It’s a reminder that Hildegard saw all aspects of nature as interconnected and imbued with the life-giving presence of God. Viriditas makes a powerful argument for a spirituality anchored in love, respect, and stewardship for nature.

Here’s two treats to round off our observance of the Feast of Saint Hildegard. The above illumination of the six days of creation comes from her first visionary book, Scivias. And the following video features several of Hildegard’s musical compositions, as performed by Gothic Voices on their award-winning album A Feather on the Breath of God: Sequences and Hymns by Abbess Hildegard of Bingen.

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P.S. In October I’ll be leading two retreats on Hildegard of Bingen.

  • On October 12 and 13 I’ll lead a Hildegard retreat at the Oratory, Rock  Hill, SC. For more information or to register, call (803) 327-2097.
  • On October 19 and 20, I’ll lead a similar retreat at the Amerson House of Hospitality and Contemplative Life, Saint Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, Atlanta, GA. Download a flyer about the weekend or, to register, call (404) 634-3336.

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  • DavidFromDenver

    Great stuff – I’ve been meaning to read her

  • FLS

    Hildegard rocks!!