Hildegard of Bingen

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Hildgard of Bingen (engraving by William Marshall, 17th cent.)

Saint Hildegard of Bingen, O.S.B. (1098 – 17 September 1179), also known as Saint Hildegard, and Sibyl of the Rhine, was a German writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath.


  • O venerable father Bernard, I lay my claim before you, for, highly honored by God, you bring fear to the immoral foolishness of this world and, in your intense zeal and burning love for the Son of God, gather men [cf. Luke 5.10] into Christ's army to fight under the banner of the cross against pagan savagery. I beseech you in the name of the Living God to give heed to my queries.
    • Letter to Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, 1146-47
  • Father, I am greatly disturbed by a vision which has appeared to me through divine revelation, a vision seen not with my fleshly eyes but only in my spirit. Wretched, and indeed more than wretched in my womanly condition, I have from earliest childhood seen great marvels which my tongue has no power to express but which the Spirit of God has taught me that I may believe." Steadfast and gentle father, in your kindness respond to me, your unworthy servant, who has never, from her earliest childhood, lived one hour free from anxiety. In your piety and wisdom look in your spirit, as you have been taught by the Holy Spirit, and from your heart bring comfort to your handmaiden.
    • Letter to Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, 1146-47
  • Now, O son of God, set in the valley of true humility, walk in peace without pride of spirit, which, like a precipitous mountain, offers a difficult, or near-impossible, ascent or descent to those who attempt to scale it, and on its summit no building can be built. For a person who tries to climb higher than he can achieve possesses the name of sanctity without substance, because, in name alone without a structure of good works, he glories in a kind of vain joy of the mind.
    • Letter to the Monk Guibert, 1176
  • Angels, living light most glorious!
    Beneath the Godhead in burning desire
    in the darkness and mystery of creation
    you look on the eye of your God
    never taking your fill:
    What glorious pleasures take shape within you!
    • "O gloriosissimi"
  • O Eternal God, now may it please you
    to burn in love
    so that we become the limbs
    fashioned in the love you felt
    when you begot your Son
    at the first dawn
    before all creation.
    And consider this need which falls upon us,
    take it from us for the sake of your Son,
    and lead us to the joy of your salvation.
    • "O eterne deus"
  • O dawn, you washed them away
    in a woman who was clean.
    O form of woman, sister of Wisdom,
    how great is your glory!
    For in you there rose a life unquenchable
    that death shall never stifle.
    Wisdom exalted you to make
    all creatures fairer in your beauty
    than they were when the world was born.
    • Ad Vitam S. Ruperti Epilogus 6, Pitra 364.

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