Saint Hildegard

The renewal of a spiritual tradition centered on creation is the greatest help in our time in understanding Hildegard of Bingen. Understanding Hildegard requires transcending our thinking, belief, worldview.

It requires a transition from evolutionist belief to creationism, where the primordial beginning, the first driver of our entire material universe, is not sought in the material, but outside of it. The Creator is found beyond the transitory in the eternal, immaterial. Only higher entity can create lower ones. The higher understands the lower and by no means the other way around.

Einstein’s replacement of Newton’s mechanical universe unleashed the spiritual aspirations and imagery of poets and physicists alike. After centuries without a religious cosmos and an introverted interpretation of our reality, we yearn to once again experience the union of the cosmos of mystery and spirit. To restore transcendence to its rightful place. Science and spirituality are coming together again. They create a common vision. Hildegard would be happy about that. She would lead the way in this glorious endeavor that gives hope to people and preserves Wisdom and Truth.

For the last 500 years, the left side of the brain has triumphed. We were killing the creator in us. Religion, which is the center and meeting place of science on the one hand and theology on the other, became a consolation for “advanced” people and an opium for the people. Atheism has climbed to the top of the Tower of Babel. It posed, and still poses, as the rational truth, and not just as a different view. A different personal belief. A different faith. Atheistic religion prevailed.

Man has become the measure of all things. It didn’t work out. This one-sided naturalistic evolutionist worldview has created the most miserable society in human history. It even substituted refuges and faith in the gods of the gap, the pagan gods, with dependence on man himself. Man is left to himself. To himself, without help, without guidance on what is right and what is harmful for him.

Hildegard was acutely aware of this. She was aware of the intelligence of the Creator. The First Initiator of all. The Initiator, who is not the fruit of the birth and gaps of this passing world, but is outside our reality. Because if the entire universe was created randomly without reason, it would be difficult to expect reason in ourselves. Whether looking through a telescope or a microscope, our minds are increasingly discovering incredible ingenuity. Amazing perfection in all creation. We are more and more aware that we know more and more but on the other hand less and less. Each solved question opens up a series of new ones. Man will never be able to answer the question of what light is, such a self-evident element. Only what are the effects of light, and not what light is in itself.

Hildegard glorifies God as the “living light and hidden illumination” that chose her to speak to the peoples.

Hildegard’s teaching invited people to “wake up”, take responsibility, change. “Those who follow the Way of Wisdom will themselves become a well that gushes forth from the waters of life… For people devoted to this water are a spring that can never exhaust or dry up. The source through which we were reborn into life, illuminated through the Holy Spirit”.

Einstein warned that “science without religion is lame; faith without science is blind.” Hildegard would certainly agree. But I would add that science and religion without art are ineffective and violent; likewise, art without science and faith is empty.

Hildegard also broadens and deepens our understanding and practice of psychology. For her, psychology was not just about dealing with ego problems, but about connecting the microcosm and the macrocosm. She regarded the human body and the human psyche as a creation in miniature. We are in the cosmos and the cosmos is in us. “God built the human form into the world structure, indeed even into the cosmos.”

She says, “just as an artist would use a certain pattern in his work.” If this is so, then we are interdependent with all of creation, and from this law of interdependence we will learn and practice truly wise living. This law of the universe is declared by Hildegard as follows: “God arranged all things in the world according to everything else.” Psychologist Carl Jung wrote that the true psychology of twentieth-century men and women is medieval. Why? In the twentieth century we have unleashed the cosmic powers of the atom, but we have no cosmic moral sense and no cosmic psychic understanding. Therefore, we absolutely need the indivisibility of microcosm and macrocosm.

The Life of Saint Hildegard of Bingen

L. 1098 – Hildegard was born as the tenth child of Count Hildebert von Bermersheim and his wife Mechthilda in Bermersheim near Alzey.

L. 1106 – When she was 8 years old, her parents entrusted her upbringing to the hermit Jutta von Sponheim. Her hermit’s cell was added to the monastic monastery on Disibodenberg hill. Here Hildegard learned to sing the psalms and the songs of David.

L. 1113 – Hildegard took vows and became a Benedictine.

L. 1136 – After the death of Jutta von Sponheim, she was unanimously chosen as superior of the developing nunnery.

L. 1141 – When Hildegard was 42 years old, she received the task from God to write down and announce everything that would be revealed to her in this and future visions. After initial fear, hesitation and reluctance, she began writing down her visions with the help of the monk Volmar and Sister Richardis von Stade. Thus, her first work was created: SCI VIAS (Know the Way).

L. 1147 – 1148 – At the Trier Synod, pope Eugene III officially acknowledged Hildegard’s prophetic abilities by reading from her notes of SCI VIAS and encouraging her to continue her work. During the preparations for the synod, the papal commission verified and confirmed Hildegard’s prophetic abilities.

L. 1150 – Hildegard founded the Rupertberg monastery in Bingen. The monastic community grew and became famous far beyond the borders of the local monastery. Many people asked her for advice and help. She corresponded extensively with important secular and ecclesiastical figures, as well as with ordinary people who sought comfort from her. With her admonition, she became the conscience of her time, in which there were fierce disputes between the secular and church authorities, as a result of which mistrust and lack of faith spread.

L. 1151 – 1158 – During these years followed the notes collected in Hildegard’s two medical books on healing, known as PHYSICA (The Healing Power of Nature) and CAUSAE ET CURAE (The Causes and Cures of Disease).

L. 1158 – 1163 – Hildegard’s LIBER VITAE MERITORUM (The Book of the Rewards of Life) was written during these years.

L. 1158 – 1163 – On three missionary and preaching journeys, her path led her to Franconia, Lorraine and the Rhineland. Despite her poor health, Hildegard went on these arduous and difficult journeys to spread and strengthen the faith at a time when many people were losing their spiritual direction.

L.1165 – She took over the monastery of Eibingen near Rudesheim.

L.1170 – On her fourth missionary and preaching trip, she visited Swabia, where she helped the abbots in Maulbronn, Hirsu and Zwiefalten with advice.

L.1178 – After Hildegard allowed an excommunicated nobleman, the excommunication of whom was revoked by the church, to be buried in the cemetery of the Rupertsberg monastery, Puertberg unjustly suffered a papal interdict which forbade the performance of the main church rites.

L.1179 – The interdict was revoked in the spring.

17.9.1179 – Hildegard died at the age of 81.

Works of Saint Hildegard of Bingen:

Three large volumes of visionary theology: SCIVIAS, LIBER VITAE MERITORUM, LIBER DIVINORUM OPERUM

SCIVIAS (“Know the Ways of the Lord”)

With the permission of Abbot Kun of Disibodenberg, she began writing down the visions she had (which is the basis for Scivias). Scivias is short for Sci vias Domini (‘Know the ways of the Lord’) and was Hildegard’s first major visionary work and one of the greatest milestones in her life. Sensing the divine command to “write down what she sees and hears,” Hildegard began to record and interpret her visionary experiences. A total of 26 visionary experiences were included in this collection.

Scivias is structured in three parts. The first part (six visions) describes the order of God’s creation: the creation and fall of Adam and Eve, the structure of the universe (described as the shape of an “egg”), the relationship between the body and the soul, the relationship of God to his people through the synagogue and angel choirs. The second part (seven visions) describes the order of salvation: the coming of Christ the Savior, the Trinity, the church as the bride of Christ and the mother of the faithful at baptism and confirmation, church orders, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and the Eucharist, and the fight against the devil. Finally, the third part (thirteen visions) summarizes the history of salvation narrated in the first two parts, which is symbolized as a building decorated with various allegorical figures and virtues. It concludes with the Symphony of Heaven, an early version of Hildegard’s musical compositions. In early 1148, the Pope sent a commission to Disibodenberg to learn more about Hildegard and her writings. The commission found the visions to be authentic and returned to the Pope with the work of Scivias. Parts of the unfinished work were read aloud to Pope Eugene III at the Synod of Trier in 1148, after which he sent Hildegard a letter with his blessing. This blessing was later interpreted as papal approval for all of Hildegard’s extensive theological activities. Towards the end of her life, Hildegard commissioned the richly decorated Scivias manuscript (Rupertsberg Codex).

LIBER VITAE MERITORUM (“The Book of the Rewards of Life”)

In her second volume of visionary theology, the Liber Vitae Meritorum, written between 1158 and 1163, after she had moved her community of nuns to independence at Rupertsberg in Bingen, Hildegard tackled the moral life – confrontations between virtues and vices. She already explored this area in her musical moralistic play Ordo Virtutum. Each vice, though ultimately portrayed as ugly and grotesque, nevertheless offers alluring, seductive appeals that seek to lure the unwary soul into its clutches. The sober voices of the Virtuous stand in defense of humanity, and they strongly confront every evil deception.

Among the novelties of the work is one of the earliest descriptions of the Purgatory as a place where each soul would have to pay its debts after death before entering heaven. Hildegard’s descriptions of the possible punishments there are often gruesome and grotesque, emphasizing the work’s moral and pastoral purpose as a practical guide to a life of true penance and true virtue. In this vision, she describes the constant struggle within each human being between the negative mental states that cause disease and the positive mental states that preserve health – she speaks of man’s vices and virtues. She explains and justifies fasting. According to her, it is merely a form of penance that helps us get rid of vice and strengthen virtue.

LIBER DIVINORUM OPERUM (“The Book of Divine Works”)

Hildegard’s last and greatest visionary work, Liber divinorum operum, was born in one of the rare moments when she experienced something akin to an ecstatic loss of consciousness. As she described in an autobiographical passage included in her Life, sometime around 1163, she received an “unusual mystical vision” in which the “falling drops of sweet rain” were revealed, which, according to her, John the Evangelist experienced when he wrote: “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1). Hildegard perceived that this Word is the key to the “Work of God”, the summit of which is humanity. The Book of Divine Works therefore became in many ways an expanded interpretation of the prologue of the Gospel of John. The ten visions in three parts are of cosmic proportions to illustrate different ways of understanding the relationship between God and His creation. Often this relationship is established by great allegorical female figures representing divine love (Caritas) or wisdom (Sapientia). The First Vision opens the work with a volley of poetic and visionary images swirling to mark God’s dynamic activity in the scope of His work in salvation history. The remaining three visions of the first part introduce the image of man standing on the spheres that make up the universe, detailing the complex relationships between man as microcosm and the universe as macrocosm. This culminates in the last chapter of the first part, the fourth vision, with Hildegard’s commentary on the prologue of the Gospel of John (John 1:1-14), a direct meditation on the meaning of “In the beginning was the Word”. The single vision that makes up the entire second section stretches this meditation back to the beginning of Genesis and forms an extended commentary on the seven days of creation described in Genesis 1-2:3. This commentary explains each day of creation in three ways: literal or cosmological; allegorical or ecclesiological (i.e. related to church history); and moral or tropological (i.e. related to the soul’s growth in virtue). Finally, the five visions of the third part recapitulate the building imagery of Scivias to describe the flow of the history of redemption. The last vision contains Hildegard’s longest and most detailed prophetic program of the life of the church from her own days of “feminine weakness” to the coming and final fall of the Antichrist.

In this work, she deals with a comprehensive vision in an extraordinary way: man as a reflection of the microcosm and the macrocosm. In this vision, she shows how strongly man is involved in the events of the entire cosmos with his body, soul and actions. She connects man with issues of cosmological balance.

Two volumes on natural medicine and remedies: CAUSAE ET CURAE, PHYSICA

CAUSAE ET CURAE (“Causes and Cures of Disease”)

She first explains how diseases occur in the human body. The first cause of all diseases is original sin, man’s first separation from God, who is the only source of life. In this document, she discusses, among other things, the creation of man, the tasks of the soul, the influence of the moon on nature and on man, the tasks of the gastrointestinal tract, the use of procedures to remove toxins from the body (letting blood, placing nodules, etc.), their influence on the organism and various means of treating diseases, which she lists. The entire work is permeated by a religious mentality. From this we can understand how strongly a person is connected to God, which is strongly reflected in her healing procedures.

PHYSICA (“The Healing Power of Nature”)

It consists of 9 books. In them she deals in turn with plants, elements, trees, precious stones, fish, birds, animals, reptiles, and metals. In these writings, she describes the healing powers of animals, plants, rocks and metals, and at the same time warns where and when we must be careful when using these substances so that they do not harm us.


She was also active in the music field. She wrote musical compositions for use in the liturgy, as well as the musical morality play Ordo Virtutum, 69 pieces of music, each with its own original poetic text, and at least four other texts are known, but their notation has been lost. Hildegard composed many liturgical songs, which were collected into a cycle called Symphonia armoniae celestialum revelationum.


Hildegard’s collection of letters (nearly 400) that survive from the Middle Ages, addressed to correspondents from popes and emperors to abbots and abbesses, include notes from many of the sermons she preached in the 1160s and 1170s. Also renowned is Hildegard’s invented artificial language, called Lingua Ignota, which remained unexplained and misunderstood.

All of Hildegard’s works are edited and collected in a single manuscript, the Riesenkodex.