Hildegard of Bingen among new saintsSaturday, May 19th, 2012
Benedict XVI has added Hildegard of Bingen to the Church’s formal list of saints.
She may also become a Doctor of the Church in the near future, following in the footsteps of Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena and Thérèse of Lisieux.
Hildegard of Bingen became a saint by “equivalent canonisation” which takes place when veneration of the saint is already well established in Church traditions, but for various reasons, the formal process of canonisation has not been completed.
The canonisation involves inserting the new saint’s feast into the liturgical calendar of the universal Church, with Mass and the Divine Office.
The Pope’s order regarding St Hildegard recognises her renowned holiness and that Catholics have venerated her for centuries. In a 2010 series of audience talks about women’s contributions to the Church, Pope Benedict dedicated two talks to St Hildegard. In December 2010 at his traditional meeting with the cardinals, and members of the Roman Curia and of the Governorate of Vatican City State, the Pope referred to child abuse by priests and how St. Hildegard of Bingen had spoken of the face of the Church, “soiled with dust.”
At the announcement on May 10 of the canonisation, the Pope said Hildegard is a worthy role model for Catholics today because of, “her love for Christ and his Church, which was suffering in her time, too, and was wounded also then by the sins of priests and lay people.”
In St Hildegard’s time, there were calls for radical reform of the Church and to fight abuses by the clergy, the Pope had said. But she, “reproached demands to subvert the very nature of the Church,” and reminded people, “a true renewal of the ecclesial community is not achieved so much with a change in the structures as much as with a sincere spirit of penitence.”
Saint Hildegard of Bingen, from Germany, was the tenth daughter of the Vermessheim nobles and became involved in Church reform, speaking out and writing about this and the lack of morals among the clergy.
She discussed these issues with leading theologians. When questioned whether it was right for a mere nun to do this she responded, “It is both a woman’s and a nun’s place to make their voice heard.”
She founded several convents and was a good organiser, but there was also a mystical spiritual side to Hildegard; she had visions and messages from God wrote and spoke about them. Hildegard also taught people to express their love for God through song and was among the first female musician in Christian history. Hildegard’s music can still be heard today.
Benedict XVI also recently authorised the decrees for the canonisation of 39 individuals and 12 new Venerable Servants of God.
by Ann Marie Foley