Hildegard of Bingen constitutes an exceptional case. Having had visions since her childhood, she was entrusted for her upbringing to the women living at the Disibodenberg convent, where she received a theological education. Following her election as head of the female community she transformed it into an independent convent (Rupertsberg near Bingen) Her extensive works, in which she described her visions and gave them a theological interpretation, made her a legend in her own lifetime. She not only corresponded with emperors, popes and other church dignitaries, she also undertook three preaching trips in her latter years: papal recognition of her as a visionary exempted her from the church's ban on preaching and teaching by women.....
The Benedictine nun Hildegard, the tenth child of a nonaristocratic family, was handed over to the female hermit Jutta of Spanheim at the age of eight, took her vows at 15, and was elected abbess at 38. According to her own testimony, since her childhood she had possessed the gift of experiencing "the power and mystery of cryptic, prodigious stories." but she kept them to herself for the most part. Only when she was 42, when "a fiery light with lightning came down from the open skies." unlocking the meaning of the Holy Scriptures to her, did she hear "a heavenly voice" telling her of her calling as a prophet and a messenger of godly tidings.
Thereafter Hildegard told people about her visions, including the Church and secular leaders. In the convent she founded founded at Rubertsberg near Bingen, which she entered as a nun in 1150 at the age of 18, she was sought out by numerous people requesting advice and guidance. Yet she also undertook numerous journeys herself in order to preach publically. What had resulted in accusations of heresy for other women was carried out by Hildegard with unchallenged authority after Pope Eugene III, on the recommendation of Bernard of Clairvaux, reviewed and acknowledged her prophetic gifts.
Hildegard's revelations, recorded in her great prophetic works, Liber Scivias (Know The Ways!) Liber vitae meritorum (Book of the Rewards of Life) , and Liber divinorum operum (Book of Divine Works), are not the direct recordings of her experiences, "but a long lasting analysis of the visions". This is an argument in favor of calling her a "visionary theologian" because, unlike latter people with mystic experiences, she "did not bring herself into these visions";instead, she reproduced what the Lord showed and said to her (Dinzelbacher). In this regard the miniatures in her works, which she designed herself, at least in part, and whose production she monitored, are also significant, as is indicated bt their context within the text. The illustration below (In book) deals with the interconnection of microcosmos (man) and macrocosmos (world)-typically for Hildegard-in a kind of didactic visualization (with Vitruvius' renowned proportional figure). The verification of the vision through an illustration by the visionary herself, who capyures it directly on her wax tablet, corresponds in text to starting every piece with "I". Each experience then retreats behind the quasi-"objective" content of the vision. Hildegard, who disavoud her learning, nevertheless proved to be the type of scholarly mystic whose writing style is often reminiscent of the Old Testament prophets.
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