Partner Richardis von Stade
Abtei St. Hildegard Eibingen, Rheingau-Taunus-Kreis, Hessen, Germany
Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 17 September 1179), also known as Saint Hildegard and the Sibyl of the Rhine, was a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath of the High Middle Ages. Hildegard of Bingen was likely lesbian. She loved another nun named Richardis von Stade and wrote with ecstasy about the Virgin Mary. She celebrated God’s green web of life as “viriditas.” Her feast day is Sept. 17. Hildegard founded several monasteries, fought for women in the church. Some say she was a lesbian because of her strong emotional attachment to women, especially her personal assistant Richardis von Stade. Excerpts from her most important works and a letter to Richardis are included in “Hildegard of Bingen: Selected Writings,” translated by Mark Atherton.
Hildegard of Bingen is one of the best-known composers of sacred monophony, as well as the most-recorded in modern history. She has been considered by many in Europe to be the founder of scientific natural history in Germany. Hildegard's fellow nuns elected her as magistra in 1136; she founded the monasteries of Rupertsberg in 1150 and Eibingen in 1165. She wrote theological, botanical, and medicinal texts, as well as letters, liturgical songs for female choirs to sing and poems, while supervising miniature illuminations in the Rupertsberg manuscript of her first work, Scivias. There are more surviving chants by Hildegard than by any other composer from the entire Middle Ages, and she is one of the few known composers to have written both the music and the words. One of her works, the Ordo Virtutum, is an early example of liturgical drama and arguably the oldest surviving morality play. She is also noted for the invention of a constructed language known as Lingua Ignota. Although the history of her formal canonization is complicated, branches of the Roman Catholic Church have recognized her as a saint for centuries. On 10 May 2012, Pope Benedict XVI extended the liturgical cult of Hildegard to the entire Catholic Church in a process known as "equivalent canonization". On 7 October 2012, he named her a Doctor of the Church, in recognition of "her holiness of life and the originality of her teaching."
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