St. Hildegard of Bingen and Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict, just this past weekend, Declared Hildegard of Bingen & John of Avila as Doctors of the Church. Two years ago, Pope Benedict gave a series of Public Audience Addresses on various significant Women Saints. Primary on his list was Hildegard, who earned two editions. You can read the first part here, and the second part here. I thought I would capture a few of Pope Benedicts words on Hildegard’s brilliance.
Hildegard’s mystical visions have a rich theological content. They refer to the principal events of salvation history, and use a language for the most part poetic and symbolic. For example, in her best known work entitled Scivias, that is, “You know the ways” she sums up in 35 visions the events of the history of salvation from the creation of the world to the end of time. With the characteristic traits of feminine sensitivity, Hildegard develops at the very heart of her work the theme of the mysterious marriage between God and humanity that is brought about in the Incarnation. On the tree of the Cross take place the nuptials of the Son of God with the Church, his Bride, filled with grace and the ability to give new children to God, in the love of the Holy Spirit (cf. Visio tertia: PL 197, 453c).
From these brief references we already see that theology too can receive a special contribution from women because they are able to talk about God and the mysteries of faith using their own particular intelligence and sensitivity. I therefore encourage all those who carry out this service to do it with a profound ecclesial spirit, nourishing their own reflection with prayer and looking to the great riches, not yet fully explored, of the medieval mystic tradition, especially that represented by luminous models such as Hildegard of Bingen.
Over the next three days, I have a series of posts on Hildegard’s brilliance. Be sure to look out.