Hildegard of Bingen: Interesting Facts About the German Saint

hildegard of bingen facts

Hildegard of Bingen Biography

A very liberal Christian nun and physician, philosopher, composer, writer and one of the first female visionaries – Hildegard of Bingen was the most important German woman during the Middle Ages. Until today, many people follow her teachings of medicine. The Roman Catholic Church worships Hildegard of Bingen as a saint. In 2012, 830 years after her death, the Pope canonized her.

Who was Hildegard of Bingen?

  • Hildegard of Bingen was born in 1098 as a daughter of nobility. At the age of eight, her parents sent her into a monastery to get religious education – during this time a very common procedure.
  • History books say, that Hildegard of Bingen didn’t like the strict life in the monastery. Once she became a responsible person of the women’s community, she required a more liberal life in the monastery including praying with open hair.
  • Hildegard of Bingen is said to be the main discoverer of ginger as a therapeutic product. She spotted them in the monastery garden and wrote all her experiences on a wax tablet in the language Latin.
  • Hildegard of Bingen was a representative of holistic medicine. That didn’t mean that medicine was supplemented by alternative healing methods, but it meant – according to of Bingen – that faith always plays a big part in any healing process. Whoever misuses his freedom given by God in the delusion of absolute autonomy, becomes ill in body and soul and thereby also brings the elements of the cosmos into turmoil.
  • Visions from the life of Hildegard von Bingen: Since childhood, Hildegard of Bingen claimed to have visions and could see shining lights. Today, her descriptions point out, that she most probably suffered from migraine. During the Middle Ages, many people were accusing her of being a witch.
  • She preached her teachings openly, which was very uncommon for women during that time. But she was not only very well educated but also a real businesswoman. Her demand was the economic independence for her own monastery in Rupertsberg. In achieving this goal, she only allowed noble women access to it because she wanted them to invest money.
  • It’s said that she maintained several letter correspondences with very influential men. One of them was Emperor Barbarossa with whom she became very angry once he didn’t want to march to her tune.
  • Hildegard was the only woman of the German Middle Ages who created a comprehensive and self-contained work of music in which she broke new ground.
  • Hildegard of Bingen was a very famous personality during her lifetime. Many people were visiting her in the monastery to get medical help and hygienic advice. For instance, she used to point out that people should clean their teeth regularly – in the Middle Ages a very rare tip.
  • She wrote openly about the sexuality of women. She didn’t participate in the demonization of female sexuality as it was common in the Middle Ages. On the contrary, she always found new images for the interrelationship of man and woman, for the equivalence of the sexes, and thus contradicts the apostle Paul, who wrote in the Corinthians that the man wasn’t created for woman’s sake, but the woman for the sake of man’s sake. According to the well-educated nun Hildegard of Bingen, totally wrong: Man and woman are mixed together in such a way that one is the work of the other. Without the woman, the man could not be called a man without a man, the woman could not be called a woman, so Bingen.

Some famous Hildegard of Bingen songs: Ave, Generosa; Columbia Aspexit. 

Featured image (cropped): Tapestry with a picture of Hildegard von BingenUrmelbeauftragter Wikimedia – CC BY-SA 3.0
May 21, 2017
Previous Post Next Post

Leave a Reply

You may also like