Art History, Artists

Who was Hildegard of Bingen?

Hildegard of Bingen was a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, polymath and is considered by many as the founder of the scientific natural history in Germany. She is also known as Saint Hildegard and Sibyl of the Rhine.

She was born over 900 years ago into a noble family and for ten years she was instructed by the holly woman Blessed Juta. She became a Benedictine nun when she was 18 at the Monastery of Saint Disibodenberg where she lived most of her life.

hildegardis phophetisa

She had left behind a treasure trove of illuminated manuscripts, poems, scholarly writings on theology, botany, medicine and physiology; and songs written for the nuns. Also, she wrote over 300 letters to people who sought her advice.

Her confessor ordered her to write the visions she had received since she was a little child, she took ten years to write her Scivias (Know the Ways), after reading it, Pope Eugene III encouraged her to keep writing.

Her other books are Book of the Merits of Life and Book of Divine Works.

Ordo Virtutum is one of her works as a composer and is an early example of liturgical drama and arguably the oldest surviving morality play.

Here is one of her compositions:


  • She is also noted for the invention of the constructed language known as Lingua Ignota.
  • The history of her formal consideration is complicated, she has been recognised as a saint by branches of the Roman Catholic Church for centuries. But on October 2012, she was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI.
  • Like all mystics, Hildegard saw the harmony of God’s creation and the place of women and men in that. This unity was not apparent to many of her contemporaries.