Hildegard of Bingen: the Most Significant Composer, Writer, Polymath and Visionary of the Middle Ages

Born: 1098
Died: 1179

Hildegard of Bingen, who is also known as Sibyl of the Rhine and Saint Hildegard, is widely regarded as ‘the most significant historical figure of the Middle Ages’ and ‘the greatest woman of her own time’. She was a polymath: a great writer, composer, philosopher and a Christian visionary. Her date of birth is unknown but it is predicted that it could be the year of 1098. She grew up in the century dominated by some of the world’s wealthiest and powerful women of Western Europe such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, and greatest theologians and philosophers Peter Abelard and Bernard of Clairvaux. It was also the century that witnessed the making of Chartres cathedral and some great universities. She belonged to a prosperous family and was the tenth child of her parents. At the age of eight, Hildegard went to the Benedictine monastery at Mount St Disibode to complete her education.

She wrote seventy poems and nine books, the botanical, theological and several medicinal texts and letters, poems and liturgical songs. Her three books on theology are Scivias, Liber Vitae Meritorum, and De Operatione Dei. Hildegard wrote a text on the natural sciences under the title Physica and a medical text Causae et Curae. Her compositions on liturgical songs were collected into a cycle under the title ‘the Symphonia armoniae celestium revelationum’. Moreover, she invented an alternative alphabet. She was widely popular for her effective healing powers that involved practical implementation of tinctures, Valuable stones, and herbs.

Her Legacy:

According to many historians, she might have been important and superior in her own time but she wasn’t revolutionary if judged by modern standard. She preferred ecclesiastical power over secular power and change. Personal experiences would matter least to her in front of revealing knowledge from God; she was more visionary than mystic. She would believe that she was a medium or instrument of God’s superior words and order and she was supposed to preach God’s words to other.

Info Source: wikipedia.org