At the age of 5, Hildegard von Bingen (born in 1098 in what is now Germany), had already started seeing visions - of light, of foresight, and of God as an all-embracing mother. At the age of 8, little Hildegard was given up as tithe (in those days 10% of each family's earnings was encouraged to be tithed to the church, so her poor mother gave up her 10th child to the church) to go and live as an oblate in a tiny room the size of a tomb.
After initially trying to escape the abbey, Hildegard eventually settled in, studying books and herbs, learning to heal, and to compose music during non-prayer hours.The hours of prayer at the abbey started at 2am for Matins, 5:30am for Lauds, 6am for Prime, 9am for Terce, 12n for Sext, 3pm for None, 5:30pm for Vespers, and 7pm for Compline before going to bed.
|Saint Hildegard von Bingen|
(pencil sketch by Saiisha)
Hildegard was known to have cured the blind with the water of the Rhine, and had many followers who believed in her. By the time Hildegard died in 1179, she was an abbess, a doctor of the church, a prayer composer, a music composer, a writer, a preacher, a mystic and a visionary. Even though she has been regarded as a beloved saint for centuries, she has only recently been canonized by the Vatican in 2012.
Illuminations, by Mary Sharratt, is a reverential, yet real, portrayal of Saint Hildegard von Bingen, the child, the woman, her growth and struggles, her visions and her voice. It is a totally believable and fascinating account of how this brave young woman had stood for her beliefs and belief in the medieval times when women's voices were rarely, if barely, heard.