Hildegarde of Bingen (1098-1179)
Feast Day: September 17
Canonized: May 10, 2012
Born into a noble family, the “Sibyl of the Rhine” was a German Benedictine abbess, writer, musical composer, philosopher, mystic — and she’s considered Germany’s founder of scientific natural history.
Hildegard became a Benedictine nun at age 18. When she was around three years old, Hildegard began receiving mystical visions that her confessor in the Monastery of St. Disibodenberg ordered her to write down. It took 10 years for her to write her book Scivias. The visions led her to understand human beings as “living sparks” of God’s love, comparable to rays of light that come from God.
Hildegard wrote three volumes of visionary theology, as well as liturgical musical compositions, botanical and medicinal texts, and a morality play. She wrote more than 400 letters to popes, emperors, abbots and abbesses. She founded monasteries in Rupertsberg and Eibingen. No stranger to controversies, Hildegard tangled with Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.
When Hildegard died, her nuns claimed to see two streams of light appear in the sky and cross over the room where she died. Pope Benedict XVI named her a Doctor of the Church in 2012.