Saint Hildegard — Visionary, Writer, and Musician


Hildegard of Bingen  (1098 – 1179)– A Mystic Saint



To me, mysticism is a fascinating concept.  Derived from the Greek μυω, meaning “I conceal”, and its derivative μυστικός, mystikos, meaning an initiate, mysticism is the spiritual apprehension of knowledge inaccessible to the intellect, and usually gained through meditation, contemplation, and prayer.   The end of the mystical journey is union or marriage to God or the Divine.  I have described it as a Walk of Faith, Hope, and Love (See my book My Walk of Faith, Hope, and Love). 

Throughout history, mystics have been found in all the religions.  God speaks to spiritual seekers wherever they are.  However, for me, the mystic saints of the Catholic Church have always touched my heart at a very deep level.  I ALWAYS loved to read about their lives.  And usually, when I begin reading their biographies, I can not put the book down until I reach the end.  Their stories are so absorbing, so fascinating — I am simply hooked.

St. Theresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Lisieux, Catherine of Siena, and Hildegard of Bingen are just a few of the mystics that have fascinated me.  Part of that is because from a very early age I could relate to their need to seek solitude, to meditate, and to listen for Divine guidance.

If we single out St. Hildegard,  I guess it was her musicianship that attracted me initially.  This 12th-century saint was able to take her connection to God and put her feelings and love for the Divine into her music.  As a result, her music is so beautiful, but even more important — so SACRED.  It needs to be experienced to be believed.

Recognition of Hildegard arose in the 1980s, in the wake of a wider women’s spirituality movement.  Spiritual seekers from diverse faith backgrounds embraced her as a role model.  Medievalists and theologians rediscovered Hildegard’s writings.

New recordings of her music hit the charts. Even radical theologian Matthew Fox adopted Hildegard as the focus of his creation-centered spirituality.  His best-selling book on Hildegard, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen, remains one of the most popular books on the 12th-century visionary. Finally, in 2009, German director Margarethe von Trotta made Hildegard the subject of her film, Vision – a film worth seeing.

Yes, St. Hildegard is now known – and loved by many.  So, you can understand why I feel honored to be able to reenact the life of this visionary saint on October 15th at the St. Joseph Center for Spirituality in Clarence, NY.   I do hope you can attend.  The program begins at 9:30 and ends around 11:15 AM  

Now, you, dear readers have a special treat as I have found a YouTube clip of one of Hildegard’s musical gems.  It is entitled, Spiritus Sanctus (meaning Holy Spirit).  This is a piece of music you want to become acquainted with.  I suggest that you now find a comfortable chair, sit down and close your eyes, and let yourself go where the music takes you.  It will take you to a heavenly place – of that I am completely sure.

Until my next blog, I send you all MUCH Faith, Hope, Love, and Peace.

Dr. Kay