Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Year of Faith: St Hildegard of Bingen

On 10 May 2012, Pope Benedict XVI extended the liturgical cult of St. Hildegard of Bingen to the universal Church

One of the most important women in medieval Europe has in effect been canonised

Hildegard’s parish and pilgrimage church in Eibingen near Rüdesheim houses her relics.

Benedict XVI is set to appoint her as a Doctor of the Church in October  2012

There is a great deal of interest in this newly canonised saint and soon to be Doctor

There have been attempts by New Age believers to "hijack" her for their own ideological ends but her work far transcendssuch narrow confines, work which is all the more remarkable for being caried out in spite of great debilitating illness.

YouTube has a channel devoted to Saint Hildegard of Bingen. At the moment it has 903 videos.
Many are beautiful renditions of her work.

Some are erudite lectures.

The German film "Vision" about her life can be viewed in its entirety -  in Spanish.

Here is a version of the plainchant Columba aspexit (The Dove peered in), a sequence for St Maximinus  ca. 1140 -1179 :

Columba aspexit
per cancellos fenestrae
ubi ante faciem eius
sudando sudavit balsamum
de lucido Maximino. 
Calor solis exarsit
et in tenebras resplenduit
unde gemma surrexit
in edificatione templi
purissimi cor dis benivoli. 
Iste turris excelsa,
de ligno Libani et cipresso facta,
iacincto et sardio ornata est,
urbs precellens artes
aliorum artificum. 
Ipse velox cervus cucurrit
ad fontem purissime aque
fluentis de fortissimo lapide
qui dulcia aromata irrigavit. 
O pigmentari
qui estis in suavissima viriditate
hortorum regis,
ascendentes in altum
quando sanctum sacrificium
in arietibus perfecistis. 
Inter vos fulget hic artifex,
paries templi,
qui desideravit alas aquile
osculando nutricem Sapientiam
in gloriosa fecunditate Ecclesie. 
O Maximine,
mons et vallis es,
et in utroque alta edificatio appares,
ubi capricornus cum elephante exivit,
et Sapientia in deliciis fuit. 
Tu es fortis
et suavis in cerimoniis
et in choruscatiane altaris,
ascendens ut fumus aromatum
ad columpnam laudis. 
Ubi intercedis pro populo
qui tendit ad speculum lucis,
cui laus est in altis.

Here is a translation from the Hyperion Records album: A Feather On The Breath Of God 

The dove peered in
through the lattices of the windows
where, before its face,
a balm exuded
from incandescent Maximilian. 
The heat of the sun burned
dazzling into the gloom:
whence a jewel sprang forth
in the building of the temple
of the purest loving heart. 
He, the high tower,
constructed of Lebanon wood and cypress,
has been adorned with jacinth and diamonds,
a city excelling the crafts
of other builders. 
This swift hart sped
to the fountain of clearest water
flowing from the most powerful stone
which courses with delightful spices. 
O Perfume-Makers,
you who are in the sweetest greenness
of the gardens of the King,
ascending on high
when you have completed the holy sacrifice
with the rams. 
This builder shines among you,
the wall of the temple,
who longed for the wings of an eagle,
kissing his nurse Wisdom 
in the glorious fecundity of the Church.
O Maximilian,
you are the mount and the valley
and in both you seem a high building,
where the goat went with the elephant
and Wisdom was in rapture. 
You are strong
and beautiful in rites
and in the shining of the altar,
mounting like the smoke of perfumes
to the column of praise. 
Where you intercede for the people
who stretch towards the mirror of light
to whom there is praise on high.

French Catholic TV (KTO) produced an hour long documentary in French on her life and works. It is well worth looking at for the views of the Rhine scenery , the chant and the interviews with the nuns who follow Hildegard:

Here is the first 15 minute clip if the film "Vision" - in Spanish. The other clips can be seen on You Tube. It shows her as a little girl and being taken to the convent at aged 8 years

Here in the Sunday Forum series held at St Paul's Cathedral, London we see and hear a lecture on the new Saint by Reverend Professor June Boyce-Tillman who amongst other things discusses the saint`s life and her view of the Trinity:

It is no coincidence that St Hildegard (and St John of Avila) are being proclaimed Doctirs of the Church before the Year of Faith. Pope Benedict made this quite clear

"But the sanctity of their life and the profundity of their doctrine render them perennially relevant: the grace of the Holy Spirit, in fact, projected them into the experience of penetrating understanding of divine revelation and intelligent dialogue with that world which constitutes the eternal horizon of the life and action of the Church. 
Especially in light of the project for a new evangelization, to which the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, mentioned above will be dedicated on the eve of the Year of Faith, these two Saints and Doctors are of considerable and timely importance. Even today, through their teaching, the Spirit of the Risen Lord continues to resonate his voice and illuminate the way which leads to the Truth that alone can set us free and give full meaning to our lives."