Hildegard of Bingen was born in 1098 and died in 1179. She was a mystic, a theologian, a physician, and a musician. Called the Sibyl of the Rhine, Hildegard often referred to herself in humble and lowly terms, but it is clear that she was extremely well read, well written, and wise.
Today, Hildegard is perhaps best known for her visions, which she says she experienced in all five senses. She had mystical visions from a very early age through her forties.
She says that in one of these she received a message from God to write out her visions, but was unwilling to do so out of humility. She became extremely ill, and was finally compelled to write her visions, she says, by a noble woman and by St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
I’ve always loved this painting of the rising Christ. Piero della Francesca painted it about five and a half centuries ago in San Sepolcro, Tuscany, where you can still see it, although it’s no longer in its original home, the Palazzo della Residenza, the town hall. According to my favorite research site, Wikipedia, the leaders of Tuscany, before any meeting, would pray standing in front of this image. Of course, for us, that’s a bizarre idea, but for Tuscans it made sense. Sure, as Italians their government had a cozier relationship with Roman Catholicism than American governance has had with any denomination.
But it goes deeper than that. The town’s name, San Sepolcro, literally means the “Holy Sepulcher,” the Holy Tomb. While this might sound like kind of a morbid name for a town, remember that for Christians Jesus has overcome the power of death. The tomb is no longer a symbol of death.
With the New Year, I’ve decided to indulge you, my vast army of readers, in a brief update on my whereabouts and activities.