St. Hildegard of Bingen – An Example of the Inner Movement of God’s Love

By Melissa Schmid, Parishioner

St. Hildegard of Bingen is an amazing woman. She lived in the 12th century in western Germany along the Rhine River and was a renaissance woman of her time. She lived an incredible life as a doctor, a mystic, a botanist, a musician, a writer, an abbess, a playwright, a baker… she did everything. And her feast day just happens to be this weekend, September 17th. If you’re overwhelmed by her litany of accomplishments, don’t be! As a Doctor of our Catholic Church, she has great value to offer us. Hildegard has contributed many teachings to the Church to help us to understand and know our faith. She often said, “By knowing our faith, we remain grounded and withstand the temptations of the world.”

In studying Hildegard’s life and teachings, I have developed a friendship with this saint and as a result, I’ve grown closer to God. I feel as though Hildegard has been praying for me and coaching me for a long time. Both of us have German heritage, a love for music, and a passion for writing. During my time living in Germany, I lived just a short hour away from Bingen, and like Hildegard, I have a high regard for baking cookies. Perhaps you may find shared interests with Hildegard as well.

St. Hildegard
V0002761 Hildegard von Bingen. Line engraving by W. Marshall. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images Hildegard von Bingen. Line engraving by W. Marshall. By: W. MarshallPublished: – Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

Hildegard did not think of herself as extraordinary. Rather, she believed from the bottom of her heart that we all, as God’s children, are capable of living a fruitful and joyful life inspired by the Holy Spirit.  She termed the vehicle to this lifestyle “hearing with the soul,” which means an awakening of the spiritual senses. She considered this holy listening to be an essential component of our personal relationships with God. She had a total of 35 visions during her life, which led Pope Benedict XVI to proclaim her a Doctor of the Universal Church in 2012.

Some of these visions discuss the relation between God and humanity. Hildegard viewed our relationship with God in unity – the Creator and the created are one. We are an extension of God. In her words she explained: “God and human are one, as the soul and the body are one; because human beings are made in the image of God. Everything has its shadow, so too is humanity the shadow of God, and this shadow is the manifestation of all creation.” A shadow cannot exist on its own, meaning we are connected to the God of Love. She also spoke of humanity as the mirror of all God’s miracles, which is an invitation for each one of us to look at ourselves in the mirror and say ‘I am God’s miracle’ and believe in who we truly are. When we believe ourselves to be God’s miracles, we then see everyone we encounter as God’s miracles as well.

God’s love moved Hildegard to sanctity. We too can experience this same love in our lives. There is much to learn from the life of this great saint. I encourage you to get to know her. For me, she has become a friend, and I am grateful to learn from her life. God is waiting to reach out to each one of us, sometimes directly in prayer and sometimes through the interactions we have with other people, including the saints. We just need to listen to God’s voice calling out to us and embrace the inner movement of God’s love.

St. Hildegard of Bingen, pray for us!