Hildegard von Bingen (1098 - 1179)
Topaz magazine will be featuring occasional articles on outstanding
people from history, who by their lives have become a beacon for many people.
Hildegard von Bingen was born in Rheinhessen, Germany in 1098, at a time of
the crusades to Jerusalem and when there existed a society ruled and ordered
exclusively by men. During her lifetime, Hildegard broke the mould of what was
considered the role of women and she was to become an advisor to the emporer,
to royalty, popes, bishops and lay people. She attracted all kinds of people
to her and her creative life embraced theology, philosophy, anthropology, cosmology,
music, exorcism and healing.
Hildegard, the youngest of 10 children, immediately displayed gifts that made
her different to her brothers and sisters and others; she suffered
ill health all her life, but despite this had an unusual ability to, as she
called it, see with her soul. Throughout her life she experienced
visions about both secular and spiritual matters and at the age of 43 received
in one of the visions the instruction to write down the contents of these. Receiving
support from the pope, there followed a period of intense labour, creating a
vast library of written work, musical compositions, poems and letters, as well
as engaging in lectures around the country.
Hildegard von Bingen lived a life that united mystical and religious experience
with an active responsibility to the world around her. She became renowned in
her time as a wise woman and a prophet of the German people. She counselled
leaders and common people and clearly saw her life to be one of service because
of her endowed gifts. She embodied the courage to fight for what she thought
she could change, and she had the wisdom and humility to know what she could
not change. Hildegard became a beacon of hope, inspiration and belief for men
and women alike, and her light shines even into our times.
Jutta Kraemer, Music teacher
The following poem, written by Hildegard van Bingen, expresses a sentiment
that was clearly central to her life:
The soul is like a wind that drifts over some herbs,
And like the dewdrops that are trickling on the grass,
And like the rainy air that makes things grow.
The human may just like this emanate his benevolence
Upon everything that bears a longing.
He may be a wind that helps the sick,
A dewdrop that comforts the abandoned,
And rainy air by lifting up the exhausted,
Filling them with love like those yearning
By giving them his soul.