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St. Hildegarde

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Feastday: September 17
Death: 1179

Hildegarde at Bockelheim, Germany, in 1098. Afflicted with fragile health as a child, she was placed in the care of her aunt, Blessed Jutta, who lived as a recluse. Jutta eventually formed a community of nuns, and Hildegarde joined the group, becoming prioress of the house when Jutta died in 1136. Hildegarde moved the community to Rupertsburg, near Bingen on the Rhine, and she established still another convent at Eibengen around the year 1165, overcoming great opposition on many occasions. Hildegarde was known for visions and prophecies, which at her spiritual directors request, she recorded. They were set down in a work called Scivias and approved by the archbishop of Mainz and Pope Eugenius III at the recommendation of St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Living in a turbulent age, Hildegarde put her talents to work in the quest for obtaining true justice and peace. She corresponded with four popes, two emperors, King Henry II of England, and famous clergy. Her pronouncements attracted the fancy of the populace-drawing down upon her both acclaim and disparagement. Hildegarde wrote on many subjects. Her works included commentaries on the Gospels, the Athanasian Creed, and the Rule of St. Benedict as well as Lives of the Saints and a medical work on the well-being of the body. She is regarded as one of the greatest figures of the 12th century the first of the great German mystics as well as a poet, a physician, and a prophetess. She has been compared to Dante and to William Blake. This remarkable woman of God died on September 17, 1179. Miracles were reported at her death, and she was proclaimed as a Saint by the multitudes. She was never formally canonized, but her name was inserted in the Roman Martyrology in the fifteenth century.

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