TOPAZ Issue 1 / 2001
An insight into Stress
Garden of Remedy and Easement
New Science Eyes
Hildegard von Bingen
Pioneering youth project
Film Review: The Unbreakable
Sustainable Development

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.

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