Medieval Thoughts part 1

I got to thinking about Hildegard. I rented a car at the airport and it has this feature of charging my iPhone and somehow accessing my music library. Actually, I know nothing about the process beyond plugging in my phone. This is why I was suddenly surprised to hear Hildegard von Bingen playing while I was crossing the snow laden valley of Spokane. Instead of the local aired “oldies but goodies”, I was listening to my collected music.

Approaching Idaho with Gregorian chants.

Hildegard von Bingen was born 1098 and died on Sept 17, 1179. According to Wikipedia she was an abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath (meaning a knower of many things).

Many scholars believe that Hildegard may have been the most intelligent human ever born, including past and current scientists. In fact Hildegard is still considered the founder of scientific natural history..

Hildegard may have been the youngest of ten children, records only exist for seven. She was quite frail and experienced visions. Her parents decided to place her in the church at the age of eight. She was raised by the nun Jutta, who taught her to read and write Latin.

When Jutta died in 1136, Hildegard was unanimously elected leader of the sister nuns. By 1150 she was the first abbess that had her own independent monastery not run by a priest.

The reading of her accomplishments are truly amazing. She wrote about plants and herbs for medicinal purposes, she invented a language with accompanied alphabet, she popularized the use of Arabic numerals, including the concept of zero. She wrote music, plays, books on astronomy, geometry, and grammar.

Her opinions were sought by Kings Emperors, and Princes. As she said, “woman may be made from man, but no man can be made without a woman.” She obviously influenced James Brown when he wrote “It’s a Man’s World”.

She had four speaking tours, preaching against corruption by those in power. This was unheard of in the time. No women could bring correction or the gospel. Except that she did.

Pope Benedict made her a Doctor of the Church in 2012, and after eight hundred years, she is being studied in colleges regarding her impact in the world, particularly by feminists.

And, I really like her music, set to the frozen gravel of the glacial plains of Spokane.

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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