Hildegard von Bingen was a German nun during the medieval period. She contributed to the development and expression of Christianity in many ways. Hildegard was a role model for women, composed music and plays, made a stand against corruption in the Church, spoke publicly about sexual issues and through her vision ( which she is most famous for )created artworks for the Church.
Issue 1: Preaching Tours ‘What the individual heart needs to be flooded with love and what the Church needs to be Holy’. Hildegard went on four preaching tours throughout Germany, by either horseback or boat. The subjects expressed during these tours were individual wisdom, creation, knowing God and sexuality. These tours were aimed at both leaders in the Church and also normal illiterate person. The tours made Hildegard a role model for women as it was demonstrated that women could be educated an matters concerning religion. It became accepted that women could attend these public preaching about religion.
Issues 2: Sexuality By speaking about sexuality, Hildegard helped shape the current views commonly practiced today by the Catholic Church. For example, masturbation is a sin if the man is not using his seamen for procreation. ‘When a women is making love to a man, a sense of heart in her brain, which brings with it a sensual delight….summons forth the emission of a man’s seed’. This is in reference to the female orgasm. If the woman enjoys the experience of intercourse she is more likely to fall pregnant. Hildegard helped form the current view that masturbation is a sin. She believed that if an orgasm occurred without the purpose of conception was abhorrent.
With the challenges of the middle ages with women being inferior to men, Hildegard said that sex was illicit, lustful act by describing it as a balance, ‘Women’s love is sweet and warmth’ and ‘ man’s love [is] blazing heat’. She also expressed the view that men should show compassion to their wives when they were menstruating and the importance of love and love making. ‘At this time the women is in pain…. Therefore the woman should be cherished’. Hildegard encouraged women to have a say in issues concerning sexual intercourse. It was also sad that sex was a sacred act as it was intended for procreation – ‘be fruitful and multiple’.
Issue 3: Music Hildegard composed over 70 songs that were played as a new way to express worship in the church. according to Hildegard, Adam had a pure voice before being corrupted in the garden of Eden. After the exile from the garden of Eden, music was invented in order to appropriately worship to God. Hymns and sequences ( written to honor the Virgin Mary and the saints ) and symphonies ammonia ( written for mass ) are 2 of the approx 70 songs that were composed for Hildegard. Hildegard’s music was inspired by her visions which believed was a message from God. Today her songs still exist and are played at mass and at other important events.
Issue 4: Role Model Hildegard was a role model especially for women. She expressed that ‘man cannot be called a man with women’. She objected about male dominance in the church. Her confrontation with the Abbot at the Benedictine Monastery of St Disbod over the burial of a excommunicated solider is an example of this. Hildegard moved away from the Benedictine Monastery of St Disbod and opened her own monastery becoming Abbot. Hilegard broke gender the barrier by showing that women were just as intellectually capable as men. This was shown by Pope Eugenus, Abbot Suger and a German Emperor Frederick 1 asking for Hildegard’s advice. On 17th October 2012 Pope Benedict XVI named Hildegard as a Doctoer of the Church. This meant that Hildegard helped the church greatly. She was only one of four women to receive this honour. Conclusion:
By Hildegard being a role model for women, composing music and plays, making a stand against corruption in the Church, speaking publicly about sexual issues and through her vision ( which she is most famous for ) created artworks for the Church she was able to help shape the current views and practices of Christianity today.