Hildegard of Bingen 1098-1179
This forum, held at the Rollo Centre May 3-4, 2013, was guided by Maureen Wild, Sister of Charity and international retreat guide and educator. Maureen offered over 40 participants an in-depth look at the life, times and mysticism of German-born Hildegard of Bingen.
She was a Benedictine nun and Abbess of the 12th century, during the time of the Crusades and when the Church was a powerful political force.
Through presentation, chant, song, film, images, poems, prayers and a great deal of humour Maureen brought to life the multi-dimensional life and works of a this great Christian mystic.
Hildegard possessed great musical talent as a composer of unique forms of medieval chant.
The Forum opened with Hiromi Bradshaw gracing the gathering with Gregorian chant, a cappella. Throughout the two-day program Hiromi and her Gregorian Chant Choir shared traditional Gregorian Chant of the 12th century and a few of Hildegard’s own unique chant compositions.
Hildegard also developed extensive knowledge of plants and their healing properties.
‘Hildegard and Healing Plants’ was one of the several themes presented on May 4th. Maureen set the context with a PowerPoint presentation on Hildegard’s knowledge of the medicinal, healing and edible qualities of plants, with related clips from the movie ‘Vision.’ Heather MacLeod Loyer, herbalist on Gabriola and a special guest presenter, then encouraged us to bring Hildegard’s wisdom, and application of this wisdom about plants, to our own setting. For example, she enthusiastically presented the healing attributes of cleavers, blueberries, nettle, dandelion, sage, red clover, and Hawthorne.
Throughout her long life Hildegard experienced ‘visions’ that brought awakenings and deep spiritual insight. While formed by and rooted in Christianity, her spirituality was at the same time cosmic and earth inclusive.
When there was injustice and scandal, Hildegard courageously spoke truth to power – ecclesial and political. She freely exercised her prophetic nature.
Hildegard was an extraordinary, multi-faceted woman of the 12th century. Since her death, and for over eight centuries, she was always the people’s ‘Saint Hildegard.’ She was officially canonized as such in May 2012, and also proclaimed a Doctor of the Catholic Church in October 2012.
The 2013 Forum brought great enjoyment with this in-depth look at the life and legacy of Hildegard of Bingen. Hildegard’s wisdom continues to inspire many throughout the centuries. She resonates as a ‘kindred spirit’ for many of us!
Thank you, Maureen!
From the novel Illuminations (2012) author Mary Sharratt articulates one of Hildegard’s visions:
“As I lost myself in my work, a vision shimmered before me. Trapped though I was inside the anchorage, the universe unfolded before my eyes, shaped like a great green egg brimming with life, as rich as the virgin forest with the purest streams surging through it. Encircling that wild greening like a necklace of gems were the four winds, the four elements, the sun and the moon, the seven planets, the entire starry firmament. Encircling all this was a ring of flame, the holiness of God, my Mother, blazing everywhere.