Monday, May 29, 2023

Hildegard of Bingen*

Hildegard of Bingen (1098—1179) was the youngest of ten children. Her parents dedicated her to God as a tithe, placing her under the anchoress Jutta as her servant and apprentice.

As a child she received visions of light she could not interpret. These visions persisted, reaching a pinnacle when she was 42 years old. She said: "A fiery light, flashing intensely, came from the open vault of heaven and poured through my whole brain. Like a flame that is hot without burning, it kindled all my heart and all my breast. … Suddenly I could understand."

Jutta and Hildegard had formed a Benedictine convent, which Hildegard moved to the Rhine River town of Bingen after Jutta’s death. She also established monasteries at Rupertsberg, and Eibingen as the community expanded.

Hildegard wrote of her visions, and her interpretations of those visions in books, and went on speaking tours throughout the Rhine region. Opposition came when she criticized church leaders for abuses of power; however, both Bernard of Clairvaux and Pope Eugenius III supported her efforts. She also started writing music for her nuns to sing as part of the Divine Office.

She is primarily known today for her music and poetry, although she also wrote practical books on biology, botany, medicine, theology and the arts.

O Comforting Fire of Spirit

O comforting fire of Spirit,
Life, within the very Life of all Creation.
Holy you are in giving life to All.

Holy you are in anointing
those who are not whole;
Holy you are in cleansing
a festering wound.

O sacred breath,
O fire of love,
O sweetest taste in my breast
which fills my heart
with a fine aroma of virtues.

O most pure fountain
through whom it is known
that God has united strangers
and inquired after the lost.

O breastplate of life
and hope of uniting
all members as One,
O sword-belt of honor,
enfold those who offer blessing.

Care for those
who are imprisoned by the enemy
and dissolve the bonds of those
whom Divinity wishes to save.

O mightiest path which penetrates All,
from the height to every Earthly abyss,
you compose All, you unite All.

Through you clouds stream, ether flies,
stones gain moisture,
waters become streams,
and the earth exudes Life.

You always draw out knowledge,
bringing joy through Wisdom's inspiration.

Therefore, praise be to you
who are the sound of praise
and the greatest prize of Life,
who are hope and richest honor
bequeathing the reward of Light.

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Hildegard of Bingen: first post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Wipf & Stock.