About Me

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I am a medievalist and an adjunct college instructor in the humanities at Union College. My research includes medieval theologies of history, text/image relationships in visionary and mystical texts, and the writings of the twelfth-century Doctor of the Church, St. Hildegard of Bingen. I am also a translator of medieval Latin and German texts, especially as relate to my research. I completed a Master's in Medieval Studies at the University of Notre Dame in 2010, a Fulbright Fellowship in Germany in 2008, and a B.A. in Classics and German at Boston College in 2007.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Nunc gaudeant materna (Symphonia 67)

For Easter, the Resurrection of the Lord, an Antiphon for the Church
by St. Hildegard of Bingen[1]


Scivias II.3:
Mother Church & Baptism.
Rupertsberg MS, fol. 51r.
Nunc gaudeant materna viscera
     Ecclesie,
quia in superna simphonia
     filii eius
in sinum suum collocati sunt.
Unde, o turpissime serpens,
     confusus es,
quoniam quos tua estimatio
     in visceribus
     suis habuit
nunc fulgent in sanguine
     Filii Dei,
et ideo laus tibi sit, Rex altissime.  
     Alleluia.
Now let the womb and heart
     of Mother Church rejoice!
For in the starry symphony
     her children
are gathered to her bosom.
O vile snake, you are
     confounded,
for those your hollow jealousy
     had thought
     it clutched within its guts
now sparkle in the blood
     of God’s own Son—
praise be to you, the highest King!
     Alleluia!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Service and Sacrifice: A Friend and the Memorial of His Love

Bronze sculpture at
Church Street UMC.
You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you…
This I command you, to love one another.

     —John 15:14-17

We know that Jesus should be our role-model in service, but it’s often difficult to know just which Jesus we’re supposed to follow. The teacher, the healer, the broken, dying man—or the Christ and Son of God, Lord of Heaven and Earth? Some of these roles are easier to imitate than others, and we struggle to hold them all together. Jesus’ disciples, too, often struggled to understand just what it meant for their wise and compassionate teacher to be both Messiah and bound to die.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

O virgo Ecclesia (Symphonia 66)

For Holy Week, an Antiphon for the Church by St. Hildegard of Bingen[1]

Scivias II.6: The Crucifixion.
Rupertsberg MS, fol. 86rr.
O virgo Ecclesia,
plangendum est,
quod sevissimus lupus filios tuos  
de latere tuo abstraxit.
O ve callido serpenti!
Sed o quam preciosus est
      sanguis Salvatoris,
qui in vexillo regis
Ecclesiam ipsi
     desponsavit,
unde filios
illius requirit.
O Virgin Mother Church,
lament and mourn!
A savage wolf has snatched
your children from your side.
O woe to serpent’s trickery!
But O, how precious is
      the Savior’s blood
that with the royal banner sealed
his bridegroom’s promise
     to the Church,
whose children
he is seeking.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

O spectabiles viri (Symphonia 31)

For the Feast of the Prophet Ezekiel, an Antiphon for Patriarchs and Prophets
by St. Hildegard of Bingen [1]


Scivias III.4: The Pillar
of the Word of God.
Rupertsberg MS, fol. 145v.
O spectabiles viri
qui pertransistis occulta,
aspicientes per oculos spiritus
et annuntiantes
in lucida umbra
acutam et viventem lucem
in virga germinantem,
que sola floruit
de introitu radicantis luminis:

Vos antiqui sancti,
predixistis salvationem
exulum animarum
que inmerse fuerant morti,
qui circuisti ut rote,
mirabiliter loquentes
     mistica montis
qui celum tangit,
pertransiens ungendo
     multas aquas,
cum etiam inter vos
surrexit lucida lucerna,
que ipsum montem precurrens    
     ostendit.
O men of sight—what a sight!
Through mysteries you’ve passed
with gaze of spirit’s eyes,
to announce
in shining shadow
a living, piercing light
that buds upon that single branch
that flourished at
the entrance of deep-rooted light:

You saints of old!
You have foretold salvation
of souls in exile plunged,
in death immersed.
You circled, spun like wheels
as wondrously proclaimed
     the mountain’s mysteries
whose top the heavens touched
and passed through many waters
     with anointing—
yet still among you
arose a shining lamp
that raced ahead, that mountain
     to reveal.

Friday, April 04, 2014

O successores (Symphonia 40)

For the Feast of St. Isidore of Seville, an Antiphon for Confessors
by St. Hildegard of Bingen [1]


Initial D: Lion of Judah
Stammheim / Hildesheim
Missal (ca. 1160-70), fol. 111v.
J. Paul Getty Museum
O successores fortissimi leonis,
inter templum et altare
dominantes in ministratione eius  
sicut angeli sonant in laudibus
et sicut assunt populis
     in adiutorio,
vos estis inter illos
qui hec faciunt,
semper curam habentes
     in officio Agni.
Successors of the mighty Lion,
between the temple and the altar
commanding in his service:
as angels sing in praise resounding
and quicken to defend the people
     with their aid—
so you among them,
as they go about their lives,
keep carefully the office
     of the Lamb.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

O tu illustrata (Symphonia 23)

For the Feast of the Annunciation, an Antiphon for the Virgin
by St. Hildegard of Bingen[1]


Chastity, from
Scivias III.8: The Pillar
of the Savior's Humanity.
Rupertsberg MS, fol. 178r.
O tu illustrata
de divina claritate,
clara Virgo Maria,
Verbo Dei infusa,
unde venter tuus floruit
de introitu Spiritus Dei,
qui in te sufflavit
et in te exsuxit
quod Eva abstulit
in abscisione puritatis,
per contractam contagionem       
de suggestione diaboli.
Illumined by
God’s clearest brightness,
O Virgin Mary bright,
and flooded with the Word of God:
your womb then flourished at
the entrance of God’s Spirit—
he breathed within you,
within drew out
the loss of Eve,
a purity cut off and silenced
by that disease contracted
at the Devil’s sly persuasion.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

O vos imitatores (Symphonia 39)

For the Feast of Pope St. Gregory the Great, a Responsory for Confessors
by St. Hildegard of Bingen [1]


Scivias II.6: Eucharist.
Rupertsberg MS, fol. 86v.
V. O vos imitatores
     excelse persone
in preciosissima
et gloriosissima significatione,     
o quam magnus est
     vester ornatus,
ubi homo procedit,
solvens et stringens in Deo
pigros et peregrinos,

R. etiam ornans
     candidos et nigros
et magna onera
remittens.
V. O actors, you who play
     the Highest Role
within that precious drama,
that glorious sacrament!
How great and beautiful
     your vested costume,
as steps forth such a man
to loose and bind in God
the slacker and sojourner,

R. the shining and the squalid
     both to beautify
and all their heavy burdens
to remit.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Vos flores rosarum (Symphonia 38)

For the Feast of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, a Responsory for Martyrs
by St. Hildegard of Bingen[1]


Agony in the Garden.
Drawing from the Abbey of
St. Walburg, Eichstätt, ca. 1500.
(From J. Hamburger,
Nuns as Artists, plate 8)
V. Vos flores rosarum,
qui in effusione sanguinis vestri  
beati estis in maximis gaudiis,
redolentibus et sudantibus
in emptione
que fluxit de interiori mente
consilii manentis ante evum

R. in illo,
in quo non erat constitutio
a capite.

V. Sit honor in consortio vestro,  
qui estis instrumentum ecclesie
et qui in vulneribus
vestri sanguinis undatis:

R. In illo,
in quo non erat constitutio
a capite.
V. You blooms of roses,
within your blood outpoured
you’re blessed in joys supreme—
the fragrance and distilled perfume
of that redemption
that flowed from th’ inmost heart
of counsel kept before all time

R. in him
who was unfounded
at the start.

V. An honor in your fellowship!
The Church’s instrument you are
as in your wounds, your waves
of blood, you surge and gush:

R. in him
who was unfounded
at the start.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Cum erubuerint infelices (Symphonia 14)

For Ash Wednesday, an Antiphon for the Virgin by St. Hildegard of Bingen[1]

Scivias I.2: The Fall.
Rupertsberg MS, fol. 4r.
Cum erubuerint infelices
in progenie sua,
procedentes in peregrinatione       
     casus,
tunc tu clamas clara voce,
hoc modo homines elevans
de isto malicioso
casu.
While downcast parents blushed,
ashamed to see their offspring
wand’ring off into the fallen exile’s
     pilgrimage,
you cry aloud with crystal voice,
to lift up humankind
from that malicious
fall.

Cum erubuerint by Sequentia on Grooveshark

Sunday, February 23, 2014

O victoriosissimi triumphatores (Symphonia 37)

For the Feast of St. Polycarp of Smyrna, Bishop and Martyr,
An Antiphon for Martyrs by St. Hildegard of Bingen [1]


Scivias III.13: Symphonia in
Heaven: Choir of Martyrs.
Rupertsberg MS, fol. 229r
(detail)
O victoriosissimi triumphatores,
qui in effusione sanguinis vestri
salutantes edificationem
ecclesie,
intrastis
sanguinem Agni,
epulantes
cum vitulo occiso:

O quam magnam mercedem habetis,  
quia corpora vestra
viventes despexistis,
imitantes Agnum Dei,
ornantes penam eius,
in qua vos introduxit
in restaurationem hereditatis.
O victors in your triumph!
Your blood poured out,
you hail the building of
the Church—
for you have entered in
the Lamb’s own blood,
and now enjoy the feast
with the slaughtered calf.

How great is your reward!
Your living bodies
you’ve despised
in imitation of God’s Lamb—
his pain you take as glory,
for in it he has brought you
to your inheritance restored!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

O virga ac diadema (Symphonia 20)

For the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes,
A Sequence for the Virgin by St. Hildegard of Bingen[1]


Virgin Mary, Queen of Heavens'
Symphony. Scivias III.13,
Rupertsberg MS, fol. 229r
1a. O virga ac diadema
purpure regis que es
in clausura tua
sicut lorica:

1b. Tu frondens floruisti
in alia vicissitudine
quam Adam omne genus       
humanum produceret.
1a. O branch and diadem,
in royal purple clad, who in
your cloister strong
stand like a shield:

1b. You burst forth blooming
but with buds
quite different than Adam’s progeny—
th’ entire human race.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

O clarissima mater (Symphonia 9)

For the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary and the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, a Responsory for the Virgin by St. Hildegard of Bingen[1]

Scivias II.6: Virgin Mother
Church offers the Eucharist.
Rupertsberg MS, fol. 86r
(detail).
V. O clarissima
mater sancte medicine,
tu ungenta
per sanctum Filium tuum
infudisti
in plangentia vulnera mortis,     
que Eva edificavit
in tormenta animarum.
Tu destruxisti mortem,
edificando vitam.

R. Ora pro nobis
ad tuum natum,
stella maris, Maria.
V. O radiant bright,
O mother of a holy medicine,
your ointments
through your holy Son
you’ve poured
upon the plangent wounds of death,
by Eve constructed
as torture chambers of the soul.
This death you have destroyed
by building life.

R. Pray for us
to your child,
O sea star Mary.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

O nobilissima viriditas (Symphonia 56)

For the Feast of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr,
A Responsory for Virgins by St. Hildegard of Bingen [1]


Scivias II.5: Virginitas
& the Orders of the Church.
Rupertsberg MS, fol. 66r
(detail)
V. O nobilissima viriditas,
que radicas in sole
et que in candida serenitate
luces in rota
quam nulla terrene excellentia    
comprehendit:

R. Tu circumdata es
amplexibus divinorum
ministeriorum.

V. Tu rubes ut aurora
et ardes ut solis flamma.

R. Tu circumdata es
amplexibus divinorum
ministeriorum.
V. O noblest, freshest green, viridity
you are, deep rooted in the sun
and shining bright in clearest calm
within a wheel
no earthly excellence
can comprehend:

R. You are contained within
the embraces of the service,
the ministries divine.

V. As morning’s dawn you blush,
as sunny flame you burn.

R. You are contained within
the embraces of the service,
the ministries divine.

Monday, January 13, 2014

O magna res (Symphonia R 407ra)

For the Octave of the Epiphany, a Verse for the Incarnate Word
and His Virgin Mother by St. Hildegard of Bingen [1]


Hand of God. Frontispiece,
Uta Codex, ca. 1025.
Munich, Staatsbibliothek
MS Clm 13601, fol. 1v.
1a. O magna res
que in nullo constituto latuit,   
ita quod non est facta
nec creata ab ullo,
sed in se ipsa permanet.

lb. O vita
que surrexisti in aurora,
in qua magnus rex
     sapientiam
que in antiquo
apud virum sapientem fuit
misericorditer manifestavit,
quia mulier per foramen
     antiqui perditoris
mortem intravit.
1a. O greatness that
no creature formed could hide—
not made indeed,
created not by anyone,
within itself alone abides.

1b. O life
that rose upon the dawn,
the dayspring when
     the mighty King
in mercy made his Wisdom known—
of old she dwelt
together with the sage—
for once a woman entered death
through the ancient slayer’s
     darkened door.

Monday, January 06, 2014

O quam preciosa (Symphonia 22)

For the Feast of the Epiphany, a Responsory for the Virgin
by St. Hildegard of Bingen[1]


Nativity of the Lord.
Stammheim / Hildesheim
Missal (ca. 1160-70), fol. 92r.
J. Paul Getty Museum
V. O quam preciosa est
virginitas virginis huius
que clausam portam habet,     
et cuius viscera
sancta divinitas calore suo
infudit, ita quod flos
     in ea crevit.

R. Et Filius Dei
     per secreta ipsius
quasi aurora exivit.

V. Unde dulce germen,
quod Filius ipsius est,
per clausuram ventris eius
paradisum aperuit.

R. Et Filius Dei
     per secreta ipsius
quasi aurora exivit.
V. How precious is
this Virgin’s sweet virginity,
her gate kept closed,
her womb
divinity most holy with its warmth
has flooded so a flower sprung
     within it.

R. The Son of God's come forth
from her most secret chamber
     like the dawn.

V. And so the sweet and tender shoot—
her Son—
has through her womb’s enclosure
opened Paradise.

R. The Son of God's come forth
from her most secret chamber
     like the dawn.

Friday, December 27, 2013

O speculum columbe (Symphonia 35)

An Antiphon for the Feast of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist
by St. Hildegard of Bingen[1]


St. John, the beloved disciple,
resting with Jesus.
Andachtsbild, carved and
painted wood, ca. 1320.
From the Dominican convent
in Sankt-Katharinenthal
(Switzerland).
Museum Mayer van den Bergh,
Antwerp / Web Gallery of Art.
O speculum columbe
castissime forme,
qui inspexisti misticam
     largitatem
in purissimo fonte:

O mira floriditas
que numquam arescens cecidisti,  
quia altissimus plantator
     misit te:

O suavissima quies
amplexuum solis:
tu es specialis filius Agni
in electa amicicia
nove sobolis.
O mirror of the dove—
the perfect form of chastity—
you gazed upon the mystic
     bounty
within the clearest font:

O wondrous, flourished bloom
that never withered, never fell—
the Gardener on high
     has sent you forth:

O sweet repose
of sunshine’s warm embrace:
the Lamb’s especial son you are
within that privileged friendship of
a new posterity.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

O factura Dei (Symphonia R 405rb)

For Christmas, the Nativity of the Lord, a Verse on the Incarnation
by St. Hildegard of Bingen[1]


God enthroned upon
the mountain, with
Fear of the Lord (L)
& Poor in Spirit (R),
Scivias I.1.
Rupertsberg MS,
fol. 2r.
O factura Dei que es homo,
in magna sanctitate edificata es,
quia sancta divinitas
in humilitate celos penetravit.
O quam magna pietas est
quod in limo terre deitas claruit,    
et quod angeli Deo ministrantes
Deum in humanitate vident.
O what a work of God you are, O human,
forged and established in great holiness—
for now divinity most holy has
the heavens pierced in your humility.
How great indeed that loving kindness is,
as in the earthy clay the Godhead beamed,
the angels in their ministry to God
see now that God within humanity.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

O splendidissima gemma (Symphonia 10)

For the Fourth Sunday in Advent, an Antiphon for the Virgin
by St. Hildegard of Bingen[1]


Scivias I.4:
Conception of
Soul and Body.
Rupertsberg MS,
fol. 22r (detail)
O splendidissima gemma
et serenum decus solis
qui tibi infusus est,
fons saliens
de corde Patris,
quod est unicum Verbum suum,
     per quod creavit
mundi primam materiam,
quam Eva turbavit.

Hoc Verbum effabricavit
tibi Pater hominem,
et ob hoc es tu illa
     lucida materia
per quam hoc ipsum Verbum
     exspiravit
omnes virtutes,
     ut eduxit
in prima materia omnes creaturas. 
O jewel resplendent
and bright and joyous beauty of the sun
that’s flooded into you—
the fountain leaping
from the Father’s heart.
This is his single Word
     by which he did create
the world’s primordial matter,
a motherhood into confusion cast by Eve.

This Word the Father made
for you into a man—
and this is why you are that bright
     and shining matter,
through which that Word
     has breathed
forth every virtue’s pow’r,
     as he brought forth
all creatures in a primal motherhood.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

O Verbum Patris (Symphonia R 404va)

A Verse for Word and Wisdom by St. Hildegard of Bingen[1]

Scivias II.1: Creation
Rupertsberg MS,
fol. 41v (detail)
O Verbum Patris,
tu lumen prime aurore
in circulo rote es,
omnia in divina vi operans.
O tu prescientia Dei,
omnia opera tua previdisti,
sicut voluisti,
ita quod in medio potencie tue latuit   
quod omnia prescivisti,
et operatus es
quasi in similitudine rote
cuncta circueuntis,
que inicium non accepit
nec in fine prostrata est.
O Word of the Father,
you are the first dawn’s light
within the circuit of the wheel,
performing all in energy divine.
O God’s foreknowledge,
you have foreseen your every deed
according to your will—
all that you have foreknown lay held
within your power’s heart.
Your working is
as like a wheel
that all encompasses—
beginning kept it not
nor ever was it wound down to an end.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ave generosa (Symphonia 17)

For the Third Sunday in Advent, a Hymn for the Virgin
by St. Hildegard of Bingen[1]


Virgin Mary, Queen of Heavens'
Symphony, Scivias III.13
Rupertsberg MS, fol. 229r
1. Ave generosa,
gloriosa et intacta puella.
Tu pupilla castitatis,
tu materia sanctitatis,
que Deo placuit.

2. Nam hec superna infusio   
     in te fuit,
quod supernum Verbum
     in te carnem induit.
1. Hail, nobly born,
O Maiden, honored and inviolate.
You are the piercing gaze of chastity,
you the material of holiness—
the one who pleasèd God.

2. For heaven’s flood poured
     into you
as heaven’s Word was clothed
     in flesh in you.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Article Published: "Visio-Theological Designs in Hildegard of Bingen's Rupertsberg Scivias Manuscript"

I am pleased to announce that the full article upon which the paper I presented at the Kalamazoo conference earlier this year was based has now been published in the art history journal Eikón / Imago 4 (2013, Vol. 2, No. 2), pp. 1-68.

"Imago expandit splendorem suum: Hildegard of Bingen’s Visio-Theological Designs in the Rupertsberg Scivias Manuscript" can be viewed on the journal's website here or on my Academia.edu profile here.

Monday, December 09, 2013

O Euchari, in leta via (Symphonia 53)

For the Feast of St. Eucharius, First Bishop of Trier (transferred fr. Dec. 8)
A Sequence by St. Hildegard of Bingen [1]


Choir of Bishops
and Confessors, from
Scivias III.13: Symphonia
Rupertsberg MS, fol. 229r
1a. O Euchari,
in leta via ambulasti
ubi cum Filio Dei mansisti,
illum tangendo
et miracula eius que fecit
     videndo.

1b. Tu eum perfecte amasti
cum sodales tui exterriti erant,     
pro eo quod homines erant,
nec possibilitatem habebant
bona perfecte intueri.
1a. O St. Eucharius,
you walked upon the blessed way
when with the Son of God you stayed—
you touched the man
and saw with your own eyes
     his miracles.

1b. You loved him perfectly
while your companions trembled,
frightened by their mere humanity,
unable as they were to gaze
entirely upon the good.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Hodie aperuit nobis (Symphonia 11)

(Nunc aperuit nobis)
For the Feast of the Immaculate Conception upon the Second Sunday
of Advent, an Antiphon for the Virgin by St. Hildegard of Bingen[1]


Humility, from
Scivias III.8: The Pillar
of the Savior's Humanity.
Rupertsberg MS, fol. 178r.
Hodie
aperuit nobis
clausa porta
quod serpens in muliere       
      suffocavit,
unde lucet in aurora
flos de Virgine Maria.
Today
was opened unto us
a shut-up gate.
For the serpent drew it tight,
      in woman choked—
yet from it gleams within the dawn
the Virgin Mary’s flow’r.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Ave Maria, O auctrix vite (Symphonia 8)

For the First Sunday in Advent, a Responsory for the Virgin
by St. Hildegard of Bingen[1]


Misericordia Dei
(Mercy of God)

Scivias III.3
Rupertsberg MS,
fol. 139r
V. Ave Maria,
o auctrix vite,
reedificando salutem,
que mortem conturbasti
et serpentem contrivisti,
ad quem se Eva erexit
erecta cervice
cum sufflatu superbie.
Hunc conculcasti
dum de celo Filium Dei genuisti:    

R. Quem inspiravit
Spiritus Dei.
V. Hail Mary,
O authoress of life,
rebuilding up salvation’s health,
for death you have disturbed,
that serpent crushed
to whom Eve raised herself,
her neck outstretched
with puffed-up pride.
That serpent’s head you ground to dust
when heaven’s Son of God you bore:

R. on whom God’s Spirit
breathed.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

O Sancta Hildegardis: A Chronogram for the Feast of St. Hildegard of Bingen

Portrait of St. Hildegard.
Rupertsberg Scivias, fol. 1r
(Protestificatio)
o sanCta hILDegarDIs,
LVX opVsqVe VIVentes
LVCeant nobIs
per VIsIones tVas
In VIa DoCentes.

(O sancta Hildegardis, lux opusque viventes luceant nobis per visiones tuas in via docentes.)

(O Saint Hildegard, may the Living Light and the Living Work shine upon us through your visions as they teach upon the way.)

Monday, July 22, 2013

St. Hildegard of Bingen: Prologue to Liber Divinorum Operum

Portrait of Hildegard of Bingen
recording her visions in the
Liber Divinorum Operum (I.1).
Lucca MS 1942, fol. 1. (From Wikipedia)

St. Hildegard of Bingen prefaced each of her three visionary-theological works—the Scivias, the Liber Vitae Meritorum (“Book of the Rewards of Life” / “Book of Life’s Merits”), and the Liber Divinorum Operum (“Book of Divine Works”)—with a brief description of the chronological and visionary genesis of the work. Although a little longer than the opening of the Liber Vitae Meritorum—whose structure it nevertheless parallels—the Prologue to the Liber Divinorum Operum is only half the length of the Protestifactio that opens Scivias. Because that first declaration came at the beginning of Hildegard’s writing career, at a time when she was still quite unsure of herself, it went to great lengths to establish both Hildegard’s frail humility in the service of God and the legitimate, divine authority for her prophetic messages, as well as the dynamic of the visionary experience relating the two. The openings of the latter two works also take up those three themes that are central to Hildegard's visionary, prophetic, and theological vocation, but with greater concision.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Guest Post at Beyond Borders

I've written this week’s guest post over at the medieval art history blog, Beyond Borders. Titled, “Monstrosity within the Church in Hildegard of Bingen’s Rupertsberg Scivias Manuscript,” it explores the hybridized, monumental images of Ecclesia (the Church) in that manuscript, with a specific eye to the ways in which the monstrous and grotesque are central to the images, rather than marginalized, as in many later, Gothic-style manuscripts. The design of the images in the Ruperstberg manuscript transgresses medieval conventions in order to make explicit Hildegard's reformist message against monstrosity within the Church.

Go check it out!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Hildegard of Bingen and the Doctoral Stars

Liber Divinorum Operum I.2:
Macrocosm and Microcosm.

(Lucaa MS 1942)

In the second vision of St. Hildegard of Bingen’s final and most important work, the Liber Divinorum Operum, she lays out a vast schematic of the universe, structured around a series of swirling spheres that nest, one inside the other, down to the globe of the earth at their center. Evenly spaced around and within its outermost sphere, which she describes as a “circle of bright fire”, she sees sixteen principal stars that “strengthen each part of the firmament with their powers,” and “simultaneously hold [it] together (...) with the rightness of an even and necessary but not excessive number. Like the nails that hold together the wall in which they are fixed, these cannot be moved from their places but orbit with the firmament as they keep it solidly fixed together.” (Liber Divinorum Operum I.2.39)

Hildegard then proceeds to offer an allegorical interpretation of the place of each physical feature of the universe within the life of faith and the history of salvation. Of these sixteen principal stars arranged along the outer circumference of the sky, she writes:

These signify that in the pure wholeness of divine power exist the principal teachers (doctores) who have taught and continue to teach that the ten commandments of the law are to be fulfilled throughout the six ages of the world. (…) For these teachers exhort the faithful throughout the four parts of the world to tremble at the fear of the Lord (…), so that because of this holy dread, they should stop sinning.
         —Liber Divinorum Operum I.2.42
Little could Hildegard have known that one day, her name would be added to the catalogue of these great and stellar teachers of the faith.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Women’s Ordination, Part 2: More Thoughts and Reconsiderations

St. Hildegard of Bingen,
Scivias II.5: Orders of the Church.
Rupertsberg MS, fol. 66r.

After offering an initial set of thoughts in my last post on the possibilities for using ancient notions of ordination to expand the authority of women in today’s Church while also preserving the sacramental reasons for the male priesthood, I had a lively conversation with various friends and colleagues that brought to light several areas of concern, reconsideration, and clarification:

1. An Order of Doctors? The magisteria of bishops and of theologians

Monday, June 24, 2013

Women’s Ordination: Teaching Authority, Sacramentality, and the Priesthood

Scivias II.6:
Ecclesia offers the Eucharist.
Rupertsberg MS, fol. 86r.

With the declaration of St. Hildegard of Bingen as the fourth female Doctor (Teacher) of the Church last year, my thoughts have turned repeatedly to the question of how women have exercised teaching and other institutional authority within the Church, and to how the examples of the past might shape the future of the Body of Christ. As western society has moved decisively over the last century to break down the structural inequalities of patriarchy that had for so long held women inferior to men, the silence that the Church still seems to command of women in its own institutional structures deafens ever more with the cries of injustice. Indeed, several commentators noticed the seeming disconnect between Pope Benedict’s canonization and valorization of Hildegard, on the one hand, and the nearly simultaneous criticism of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on the other. How can the Church authorize one of her most stridently critical prophetic voices as one of her most important teachers of the faith, and yet continue to bar entry into its modern magisterium to the women who serve that faith today?