A brief biography
Hildegard was born in 1098 at Bickelheim, on the Nahe River. Born the youngest of ten children and a member of nobility, she claimed to have visionary experiences by the age of ten. She entered the Disibodengurg Cloister ("Mount St. Dusubide") at the age of eight. She was tutored by the nun Jutta, and became a Benedictine nun at eighteen. When Jutta died in 1136, Hildegard became the Prioiress of Mount St. Dusubide, and continued this position until 1147. Two years later, Hildegard founded and became the Abbess of Bingen Convent at Rupertsberg. She stayed there until her death in 1179.
Hildegard's philosophy comes from visionary mysticism, claiming that God gave her visions that she transcribed. Her spiritual awakening came in 1140 while working as the Prioress of Mount St. Dusubide. She describes the experience below,
"When I was forty-two years and seven months old, a burning light of tremendous brightness coming from heaven burned into my entire mind. Like a flame that does not burn but enkindles, it inflames my entire heart and my entire breast, just like the sun that warms an object with its rays."
Hildegard did not only write about her religious experiences. In fact, she was also the nurse-physician in the infirmary at Mount St. Dusubide. She wrote several medical treatises on things ranging from the curative power of herbs to her Causae et Curae, possibly one of the earliest books on human psychology and personality written in the west. She wrote two other medical texts, Liber Simplicis Medicinae and Physica (Natural Arts).
Along with her medical texts, we have evidence of over one hundred letters to emperors, popes, bishops, archbishops, nuns, and nobility. Hildegard wrote more than seventy-two songs, including a morality play set to music (that may possibly be the first musical).
View a list of sources and references. Click here.