Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hildegardis Bingensis

Arsen Darnay reminds us that today is the traditional feast day of St. Hildegard von Bingen. She is indeed Saint Hildegard; while she is not on the Universal or General Calendar, she is listed as a saint in the Martyrologium Romanum. This is, usually, a sign of someone who is saint by longstanding -- we are talking literally ages -- and widespread popular recognition of the right sort rather than by any formal canonization process. The main difference between saints on the Universal Calendar and saints not on the Universal Calendar is precisely that -- the latter have regular liturgical recognitions on their feastday only on some local calendars.

You can find a good list and discussion of English translations of a number of Hildegard's works here. The following is a selection from a letter (translated by Abigail Ann Young) in which she explains her own view of her visions:

O faithful servant, I, poor as I am in womanly form, am speaking these words to you again in true vision. If it pleased God to console my body as He does my soul in this vision, the fear would still not recede from my mind and heart, because I know that I am still a mere mortal, although from my infancy I have been in enclosure. Moreover many wise men have been so infused with wondrous deeds that they opened many hidden things but, as a result of vainglory, they attributed those deeds to themselves and so they fell. But those who draw off wisdom from God in the lifting up of their soul and account themselves as nothing become the columns of heaven, just as happened in Paul's case. He preceded the rest of the disciples in preaching and nevertheless regarded himself as of no value. John the Evangelist also was full of gentle humility and therefore he drew forth many things from divinity.

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