Hildegard of Bingen was born in 1098 and was considered to be one of the most significant people in Middle Ages History. Hildegard was the daughter of a Knight and when she became 8 years old was sent to a Benedictine Monestary to be educated. At the age of 20 she became a nun. Some 20 years later she became the head of the female community at the Monestary of Mount St Disibo ” Within the next four years, she had a series of visions, and devoted the ten years from 1140 to 1150 to writing them down, describing them (this included drawing pictures of what she had seen), and commenting on their interpretation and significance.” (Anon, 2009)
Pope Eugenius III became interested in the visions of Hildegard and he instructed a commission to investigate the authenticity of her reports. The commission confirmed authenticity of the visions and subsequently the Pope sent her a letter of approval. In turn Hildegard asked the Pope to continue the reforms in the Church. Hildegard moved the large growing population of nuns from the Monestary at Mount St Disiblo ( a mixed male / female religious community) to that of an all female Monestary near Bingen in Germany. Hildegard was an avid traveller and visited many religious establishments throughout Southern Germany, Switzerland and France. Her sermons were described as being extremely stirring She died in 1179 leaving a legacy of collected writings that spanned Popes, Kings, Nobleman, Bishops and Nuns. Hildegard was also very interested in music and composed 72 songs. The legacy also included about 70 poems and 9 books. Some of the written work being on apothecary, herbalism and anatomy.
During the period that Hildegard experiences her many visions she only confided in two people. To another Monk called Jutta and to her personal secretary Volmar. It was in 1141 that she experienced the most important of these visions. Hildegard suffered from extreme bouts of migraine and it was this suffering throughout her life that contributed towards the clarity of these visions. The vision from God was a powerful one and enabled her clarity and understanding of religious texts. God commanded her to write down all that she witnessed and experienced in her visions.
During all these years Hildegard confided of her visions only to Jutta and another monk, named Volmar, who was to become her lifelong secretary. However, in 1141, Hildegard had a vision that changed the course of her life. A vision of god gave her instant understanding of the meaning of the religious texts, and commanded her to write down everything she would observe in her visions. ” And it came to pass … when I was 42 years and 7 months old, that the heavens were opened and a blinding light of exceptional brilliance flowed through my entire brain. And so it kindled my whole heart and breast like a flame, not burning but warming… and suddenly I understood of the meaning of expositions of the books… (Lerman 1995)