The Genius of My Sister – St. Hildegard of Bingen

The Church gives thanks for all the manifestations of the feminine ‘genius’ which have appeared in the course of history, in the midst of all peoples and nations; she gives thanks for all the charisms which the Holy Spirit distributes to women in the history of the People of God, for all the victories which she owes to their faith, hope and charity: she gives thanks for all the fruits of feminine holiness.

Mulieris Dignitatem, No. 31.

About 1,000 years ago, an 8-year-old girl found herself living amid a religious community of Benedictine sisters. Eventually this girl would grow to be a true renaissance woman. All realms of life fascinated her, and rather than focusing on one particular area, she embraced all of them. In addition to frequently experiencing visions from God, she was also a chemist, botanist, mystic, naturalist, poet, author, theologian, musician and, most importantly, a devout disciple.

Hildegard of Bingen embodied all that is the feminine genius. She comprehended the importance of viewing the world holistically, rather than in a compartmentalized manner; the notion that science could possibly contradict theology was foreign to her. But the aspect of Hildegard’s life that I am most inspired by is her conviction to glorify God through her voice — first by finding it and then by having the courage to allow it to be heard. Hildegard drew others to the heart of Christ, to truth. In fact, her voice influenced the Church so profoundly that she would go on to be one of the four women Doctors of the Church.

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