Theologian Thursday: Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)

Added on by Keegan Osinski.

Hildegard of Bingen is awesome, because not only was she a learned theologian and abbess, but she was also a musician and a scientist--a true polymath.

She was her parents' tenth child, and experienced visions from a very young age. She entered the Benedictine monastery at eight years old and was enclosed in the convent with the anchoress Jutta, who taught her to read and write. She continued work at the convent, becoming a nun and then eventually the head of the community. Hildegard was well-respected by emperors, bishops and popes, and had extensive correspondence with all of them regarding matters of religion.

She wrote 72 pieces of music, 70 poems, and 9 books, including ones on medicine and botany.

Here's an example of one of her compositions, O Pastor Animarum


Even though Hildegard has been venerated for centuries, she just was beatified as a saint in May of this year, and Pope Benedict XVI declared her a Doctor of the Church (the 4th female one) just last month.

What you should read:

Ratings:(To read more about my rating system, click HERE.)
Gender Equality: 
Hildegard was unfazed by the fact that she was a woman in the man's world of religion. She was unafraid of correcting and criticizing bishops and popes when they were screwing up. And she was unapologetic for doing what she thought was right, even if her male superiors warned against it (like when she granted Christian burial to a man who had been excommunicated). She also didn't let her femininity keep her from becoming educated and successful in many areas.
Environmental Sensibility: 
Hildegard had a huge respect for nature. Much of her writing is natural history and botanical guides, and she understood how important creation was in the spiritual life of people. She felt very strongly about caring for the earth, and even said, "The earth which sustains humanity must not be injured, it must not be destroyed."
Heretical Tendencies: 
As far as I can tell, nothing heretical ever came from Hildegard's pen or mouth. She was strongly orthodox and respected highly because of that.
General Badassery: 
I have a soft spot for polymaths--especially female ones! I can barely lay claim to expertise in one area, so the fact that someone can be so knowledgeable about so many things seems super badass to me.

And a quote:
"There is the Music of Heaven in all things and we have forgotten how to hear it until we sing."