Sunday, 15 January 2017

Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen, by Madonna Sophia Compton



Madonna Sophia Compton, Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen: The Life and Times of Hildegaard, 2015 The Raphael Group


I decided to read this after reading Madonna Sophia Compton's fascinating book on Sergius Bulgakov. I first encountered St. Hildegaard of Bingen when I was 13 or 14, when I bought a casette tape of her amazing choral music. Saint Hildegaard of Bingen is a fascinating figure, both for her musical legacy and that she is one of the few female Doctors of the Church. Her music is an undeniably important part of her work, as it communicates her vision of a cosmic harmony of heaven and Earth. Though Hildegaard may be appealing to heterodox feminist theologians, St. Hildegaard was thoroughly orthodox and helped to oppose the great heresies of her time, Catharism and Waldensianism.

Compton provides a very readable and informative introduction to the life and historical context of this great Doctor of the Church. She makes reference to a number of scholars who have offered insights into her work. Our author explains the importance of the theme of Sophia, divine wisdom, in the visions and writings of Hildegard. Hildegard's visions are full of feminine imagery and central to them is the figure of Lady Wisdom, the personification of beauty and goodness energized in creation by the Spirit of God. Hildegard also saw the Church personified in female form and our author does not fail to make a connection between Sophia and ecclesiology, which is something I think she rather neglected in Sophia-Spirit-Mary.

A number of short passages are included in the book to give a taster of St. Hildegard's work.

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