A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF HILDEGARD OF BINGEN

By Tim Lambert

Hildegard of Bingen was a writer in the 12th century. She was born about 1098 in Germany. Hildegard came from an upper class family. She was one of ten children. When she was 15 Hildegard became a Benedictine nun. In 1136 when she was about 38 Hildegard became the abbess.

Hildegard claimed that she had visions from the time she was child. What caused them is uncertain.

Her first book was called Scito vias domini or Know the Ways of God. Hildegard completed it in 1151. It covered a huge number of theological subjects including the Church, angels, the Trinity, and the end of the world. Hildegard also wrote a morality play called Ordo Virtutum (order of the virtues).

Meanwhile in 1148 Hildegard announced that God had told her and the other nuns to move to a new location at Rupertsberg near Bingen. They moved about 1150.

As well as theology Hildegard was also interested in the natural world. She made no new discoveries herself but she wrote a compendium of knowledge about the natural world at the time called Physica. Hildegard also wrote a book about medicine called Causes and Cures.

As well as being a great writer Hildegard was also a composer. She composed a cycle of songs called the Symposia. Hildegard was also an abbess and she had to cope with the day to day running of a convent. However Hildegard only allowed girls from noble families to join her convent. In her view it was unnatural for the different classes of society to mix.

Hildegard died on 17 September 1179. She was aged about 81 (a very old age in those days). In the Middle Ages Hildegard of Bingen was an influential woman. Even today Hildegard is remembered as a great scholar and mystic.

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