AN earthy Benedictine nun who lived 900 years ago is experiencing a remarkable spiritual renaissance.
Hildegard of Bingen, 12th century mystic, composer, healer, prophet and preacher whose birthdate is this week, is the subject of at least 12 recent books. Even her handbook on medicinal uses of plants, animals and stones is available on the Internet.
Many of her songs, similar to Gregorian chants, have been released on CD.
Hildegard and other medieval female visionaries have seemingly become role models for some Christian women looking for direction in the established churches.
The mystics have been credited with making the church more accessible to women who feel it has too long been the domain of men.
Hildegard may not have been a feminist. Or even a liberated woman in the modern sense.
But she was an earthy mystic who, at a time when few women even wrote letters, produced a rich body of lyrical work on a number of spiritual subjects.
Hildegard called herself “a trumpet of God” and believed her major works on theology would be a historical affirmation of the feminine in the divine.
Absorbed by the mystery of God, she was, for most of her life, a recluse who lived in a cloister.
She did not proclaim herself until she was in her 40s but then quickly became recognised for her vibrant intellect and irrepressible spirit.
She fought with secular and religious leaders of the time but was respected by most of them.
Her popularity soared among the common people, especially after she wrote a positive essay from a woman’s viewpoint on sex.
She was consulted by and advised popes, bishops and kings.
She once described the universe as “a hazelnut in the hand of God “.
She believed music could capture the joy and beauty of paradise and wrote hundreds of songs, which have been praised by modern musicologists.
Here’s a bit of her music