An expression of the Divine Feminine found in Hildegard is her wish for a church that is a “bride of Christ, inviolate virgin, mother of the faithful.”  The fact that the church so rarely was this virtuous woman pained Hildegard and was the source of much of her prophetic outrage.  The church she envisions is an eschatological figure: it’s the future, a work in progress.

Wisdom, by Hildegard of Bingen

Newman  points out that Hildegard preferred “this consummate form of Woman, who embodies the whole of redeemed humanity in union with God” to other images of the church such as the body of Christ or ark of salvation—or, I might add, a church triumphant.  She paints the church being birthed out of the side of Jesus on the cross, from the blood and water that flowed.  The church “can be ravished by rapacious clergy and, ultimately, by the Antichrist himself; in her role as mother, she can be bereft of her children through schism and heresy.”  It’s to this defamed church that much of Hildegard’s apocalyptic preaching is addressed.

Hildegard distinguishes between the “kingdom of God” and the church.  She liked to consider the church as a building in the celestial city of Jerusalem.  Naturally she was partial to this image because she herself built two monasteries, and also because Scripture talks of the house that wisdom built.  Hildegard saw the virtues as the building blocks of the living and true church.  Virtues are personified as the “people of God” or as the real meaning of church.

Taking the passage from Luke’s Gospel in which Jesus drove the money lenders  from the temple and cited the Hebrew scripture, “My house is a house of prayer,” Hildegard says, “’my house,’ that is, ‘the human being ‘ is ‘a house of prayer,’ because chastity and holiness ought to reside in the human… [and] righteous judgments of wisdom and honor ought to reside in the human being.”

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint For Our Times, pp. 120-121

Faith In Practice

YOU are the church! Why not gather with some of your friends who are open to it and do some form of worship together today?

Recommended Reading

Hildegard of Bingen, A Saint for Our Times: Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century

Author Matthew Fox writes in Hildegard of Bingen about this amazing woman and what we can learn from her.
In an era when women were marginalized, Hildegard was an outspoken, controversial figure. Yet so visionary was her insight that she was sought out by kings, popes, abbots, and bishops for advice.

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