Hildegard of Bingen 1098 - 1179


1. Stations of life

 Hildegard von Bingen from Germany is one of the most important and versatile female figures of the Middle Ages. She belonged to the Benedictine order, was an abbess herself and founded two women's monasteries. She is considered a great German doctor, musician and composer.

We know very little about Hildegard's personal life and thinking. It is shaped by the Benedictine order. Your real personality resigns from one of your calling. Her numerous works, a vita that was written about 100 years after her death, and the annals of the monasteries give us information.  

Parents

 

 

Hildegard is not a simple woman without education. She  belongs to the Rhenish nobility. Her parents are the noble Hildebert von Bermersheim and his wife Mechtild. The parents support the church very generously. The father is actively involved in the construction of the Speyer Cathedral.

None of her children married. All went to church service.

Four of her brothers became high clergymen. 

After the death of the parents all money was passed on to the newly founded Hildegard monastery.

Jörn Ritterbusch/Flickr.com
Jörn Ritterbusch/Flickr.com


Childhood and Youth

Hildegard was born in 1098, the youngest of 10 children.

Hildegard is consecrated by God as a "tithing gift" to God, much like Boniface, who brought Christianity to Europe.

Hildegard had visions as a child.

Monastery life and upbringing were reserved for Hildegard's noble girls during her lifetime.

At the age of 8, Hildegard Jutta von Sponheim was entrusted with the upbringing. With three girls, the young woman founds a women's chapel next to a Benedictine monastery on Disibodenberg and lives and teaches there. Other girls joined the training.


Hildegard wrote a song about this time and directed it to her home, the Disibodenberg. In his monastery courtyard and garden, balm trees such as myrrh and incense were grown, which belonged to every religious service and whose scent filled the whole place. 

Disibod, you chosen one,

blissful your childhood was.

Illuminated early by God's Spirit

you have from God's miracle power

Let sacred works sprout

fragrant sweet like a balm.


Entry to the monastery

Blessing of Virgin

 

Hildegard entered the monastery at the age of about 14 and was celebrated as a "dedication to the virgin". This rite continued until the 14th century.

The ceremony was performed on November 1st, 1112 by Bishop Otto von Bamberg. The anal of the Disibodenberg confirm the act. The date of entry probably has a symbolic meaning.

On the author picture under Vision 1 you can see the three monks surrounded by walls. Your only connection to the outside world is an upward window. This symbolism indicates the inclusiveness of the old monks, which goes back to Antonius. Hildegard was also included. The rite was a baptismal rite and corresponds to a symbolic burial. The liturgy includes the story of the 10 virgins and the words of the grain of wheat. From the moment she was locked up, the inclusive woman had died for the world. 

The rite gives monastic medicine its name: medicine of the 10 virgins = medicine of the nuns.

Hildegard the Abbes

Jutta von Sponheim died in 1136. Hildegard was elected leader of the women's community at the age of 38. She holds the office of abbess, a high office in the church, which was roughly equivalent to the bishop. Her formal address was "mother". In this function she wrote her important theological works, but also cured many sick people, as her vita reports.

 

1148: In Hildegard's 50th year, her community grew so much that there was no longer enough space. She founds a new monastery in Rupertsberg. It is conveniently located between Trier, Cologne and Mainz. Hildegard is the building owner. The monastery is known beyond the borders due to its modern construction with hygienic facilities and running water in all work rooms (Schipperges, Leben und Werk in Symphonia p. 221). In total, the facility offers space for 50 nuns.

 

Hildegard's monastery
Hildegard's monastery

 

Hildegard writes a song about the foundation of her monastery: 

In his blissful childhood, yes

wore Rupertus, worthy of praise,

a yearning for God -

he renounced all the world.

And so he shines now

in the harmonies of heaven,

sings in the cheering chorus of angels

and praises God's son.

In old age Hildegard leaves the monastery and goes on mission trips. She visits other monasteries and preaches to ordinary people. So at the end of her life she realized the word of Jesus to John the Baptist "See the blind, go lame ... and the gospel is proclaimed to the poor" and complete her medical work.

 

1179: Hildegard dies at the age of 80. After her death, the monastery lost its importance and was completely destroyed by the Thirty Years' War.


Ein glückliches Leben möchte ich haben

in der Ruhe der Ewigkeit.

Schon in den Tagen der Lebensblüte,

da ich zur Heiligkeit wachse und reife,

will ich gedenken meines Schöpfers

in guten und heiligen Werken.

 

Es kommt ja die Zeit, da Fleisch und Blut

Abnehmen bis auf die Knochen.

Die Asche des Leibes zerfällt in den Staub

Der Erde, aus der ich geschaffen;

In anderes Leben geht sie dann über.

 

Der Geist, der meinen Körper belebte,

wird ihn verlassen und kehrt zurück

zum Herrn der Schöpfung, der ihn aus Gnade

meinem Leibe verliehen.

Du, Schöpfer, bist wie ein Schmied,

der mit dem Blasbalg das Feuer entfacht,

sein Werkstück nach allen Seiten dreht,

um sein Werk zu vollenden.

 

Wenn ich, von guten Taten geleitet,

zur ewigen Freude heimgefunden,

lass mich das reinste Licht erblicken.

Lass mich der Engel Lieder hören

Und das ersehnte Gewand des Leibes,

dessen ich mich entkleidet,

wiedererhalten zu meiner Freude. 

HvB, LVM IV, 68


Das Kloster heute

Die Benediktinerinnenabtei St. Hildegard wurde  1904  in Eibingen oberhalb des alten Klosters .gegründet. Die ersten Schwestern kamen von der Benediktinerinnenabtei St.Gabriel in Prag. Heute gehören 50 Schwestern zum Konvent. Sie haben sich als Aufgabe gesetzt, das Erbe Hildegards zu pflegen und verbreiten. 2012 wurde Hildegard von der katholischen Kirche heilig gesprochen und in den Stand der Kirchenlehrerin erhoben. 

 

Hildegardforschung

Dies war der  Anlass für einen internationalen und interdisziplinären Kongress unter dem Thema "Unversehrt und unverletzt. Hildegards Menschenbild und Kirchenverständnis heute", der im März 2013 in Mainz stattfand. Er wurde veranstaltet vom St. Viktor Institut in Frankfurt - St Georgen unter der Leitung von Prof. Rainer Berndt, SJ und der Benediktinerabtei St. Hildegard, Eibingen. Prof. Berndt formulierte als Anliegen der Forschung eine präsentiale Hermeneutik als einer "Transferleistung", die versucht, Begriffe aus dem Kontext ihres Entstehens in unsere gegenwärtige Situation zu übersetzen und so Gemeinsames und Originalität Hildegards methodisch festzuhalten. 

Indem wir die Kirchenlehrerin und ihre Schriften in Bezug setzen zu ihren Zeitgenossen, tritt nicht nur das biographischen und das intellektuelle Profil unserer Protagonistin hervor. Gerade die Kontextualisierung biet eine Verständnishilfe für die so außergewöhnliche Denk- und Glaubensform der Heiligen und Doktorin an, die Gabe des Glaubens und seine Annahme durch die Menschen für Gottes aller ursprünglichstes Heilshandeln hält (Berndt mündlich).

 


Mehr von Hildegard Leben erfahren:

Vita (Lebensbild): Das Leben der Heiligen Hildegard von Bingen (Vita), hg. und übersetzt von A. Führkötter

Hildegards Vita wurde etwa 100 Jahre nach ihrem Tod erfasst.

 

Moderne Biografien haben als historische Grundlagen ebenfalls die Annalen der Klöster und Hildegards Werke. 

  • Das Leben der Heiligen Hildegard von Bingen (Vita), hg. und übersetzt von A. Führkötter
  • Charlotte Kerner, Alle Schönheit des Himmels. Die Lebensgeschichte der Hildegard von Bingen, Gulliver Verlag
  • Hildegard Gosebrink, Hildegard von Bingen begegnen, Sankt Ulrich Verlag
  • Barbara Beuys, Denn ich bin krank vor Liebe. Piper Verlag

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