While we have copies of all of Hildegard's works, the illuminated copy of her theological work, Scivias,is lost.During World War Two it was sent to Dresden for safe keeping, but this was unfortunate, as the Allies bombed Dresden and the city became a fire storm. Compared to the lives that were lost, a book is a small, though regrettable matter.
It is said that she wrote more prolifically than any women of her time, but she wrote more than most men as well. It has been noted [ www.hildegardeofbingen.net ] that while there were always influential women, most wielded influence through their menfolk, but Hildegard was a woman whose influence rested on her accomplishments, and these grew out of her profound religious experience that came to her as visions. For many years she kept the visions to herself until in one vision God told her to write them down and they became the basis of her works of theology.
There were three long theological works: the Scivias [Know the Ways] Vitae Meritorum [Of Life's Merits, Liber Divinorum Operum. Each one details her visions, which are then interpreted in terms of her completely orthodox theology. There was nothing uncatholic about Hildegard. Each of these works was written by hand in Latin, and as one early image of her seems to show her as an illustrator it is likely that she was talented in illustration as well. She also wrote the Ordo Virtutum, n allegorical morality play, possibly the first of its kind.
Yet her experience in nursing led to her to take an interest in medicine, and this meant botany, so she wrote works on natural medicine. She broke new ground in writing about women's subjects, one of which was gynecology, so it is likely that she and the nuns were dealing with the health of women in their locality. She also touches on sex, writing on the female orgasm, about which none seems to have written before. Yet she also found time to compose music. She composed within the plainchant traditions of the Catholic Church. Still much of her music survives.
Besides this she found time to found two convents, one at Rupertsberg and one at Eibingen, which replaced an earlier Augustinian foundation. This abbey still survives today.
Along with this came at least four hundred letters to the leading people of the age, including the following: various popes, Emperor Barbarossa, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Henry II af England and his queen Eleanor. All these letters give advice. And this is in addition to her being the spiritual leader of an abbey, responsible for guiding the nuns in their religious life.
The energy to work as hard as this derives from her deeply spiritual life, and this sort of work rate is not unusual among saints, for they are energized and motivated by God's power. Yet if you examine the image above you see her bearing a feather, which symbolizes what she saw as her weak body, for she was always conscious of her frailty.
No, only very recently was she proclaimed by Benedict the Sixteenth.
There were few Doctors of the Church, which indee was a high recognition. I believe it was often proclaimed when the person was alive, for I remember having heard Henry VIII was a Doctor of the Church before he broke away, and he certainly would not have been so named after he left. Was the title given when she was alive?
Correct. The process of her canonization was started early, but was stalled because she often flouted ecclesiastical authority and while she was honoured locally as a saint it was only in 2012 that Benedict the Sixteenth completed the process. She was the earliest of the four female doctors of the church, but the last recognized.
One instance of her flouting authority was when a man who had been excommunicated but absolved was buried in her abbey, The clergy wanted him exhumed and reburied elsewhere, but Hildegard rightly refused, saying that the exhumation was unjust and against God's will. What the clergy said did not matter, she obeyed God and that was that! End of story. Once she thought that something was the will of God she would not move an inch.
I realize the date of her death would make her life after the rules for canonization were established. Earlier a person might be called a saint, but not really accepted as such by the modern church, But this was over a hundred years after the rules were established, so I read into this she was indeed canonized.
I think it worth noting that Hildegard never sought political power. She seems to have been content to write books, letters and musical scores. She probably enjoyed the refined femininity of the convent and was happy to stay there.
I don't think that they are plants special to her, but as she was a herbalist and wrote texts on botany and medicine, which then was herbalistic, she must have mentioned in her books very many plants which she would have used in treating her patients, who probably included not only nuns but local people.
frankbeswick, The statue of Hildegard is lovely. Is the bouquet symbolic of plants that she particularly valued?