Hildegard von Bingen To Be Elevated to "Doctor of the Church"
Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), a German Benedictine abbess who interests not only Roman Catholics, but also today's spiritual feminists of many paths, will be elevated to "Doctor of the Church" on Oct. 7. Hildegard's Feast Day is Sept. 17, the day of her death.
Hildegard's interest to spiritual feminists revolves around her teachings that include a closeness to nature; opposition to self-flaggellation, hair shirts and other RC customs of the time based on denial of embodied life as sacred; imaging the divine as feminine/female; as well as her emergence in an time of misogyny as an influential abbess, composer, poet, herbalist, and scientist.
Pope Benedict XVI announced Hildegard's forthcoming elevation to "Doctor of the Church" last May 12 when he also declared her a saint, making official a title first sought for her centuries ago, and conferred on her by millions of people for just as long, but delayed due to problems in the process of canonization beginning hundreds of years ago . Pope Benedict's declaration of Hildegard's sainthood is known as an "equivalency canonization," according to a May 29 post on catholicism.org. "Doctor of the Church" is a title the Roman Catholic Church gives to saints whose teachings it considers valid for all time. Hildegard will be only the fourth woman to be given this title, while thirty male saints have been so elevated. (John of Avila will also be elevated to "Doctor" on Oct. 7.)
I am currently reading an advance copy of Mary Sharratt's historical novel about Hildegard, Illuminations, scheduled to be released October 9, and plan to post a review sometime before then. You may also be interested in my 2010 review of "Visions," a film about Hildegard's life.
An example of Hildegard's music, performed by the group, Sequentia: