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.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Doctor Ecclesiae: A Chronogram in Honor of St. Hildegard of Bingen

Portrait of Hildegard of Bingen.
From the Rupertsberg Scivias, fol. 1r.
o hILDegarDIs prophetIssa
DoCtor eCCLesIae:
Vera VIsIo XrIstI
sIt nobIs LVX opVsqVe
In VIa.

(O Hildegardis prophetissa, Doctor Ecclesiae: Vera visio Xristi sit nobis lux opusque in via.)

(O Hildegard, prophetess and Doctor of the Church: May the true vision of Christ be for us light and task upon the way.)

Monday, October 08, 2012

St. Hildegard of Bingen made Doctor of the Church: Coverage Round-Up

Here's a round-up of the various coverage--news, commentary, arts, and tributes--of Pope Benedict XVI's declaration St. Hildegard of Bingen as a Doctor of the Church on Sunday, October 7.  I have also corralled at the bottom all of the audiences, speeches, etc. in which Pope Benedict has made major mention of St. Hildegard.

News Reports:

Friday, October 05, 2012

Caritas, Humilitas, and Pax: Theophany of the Fountain in St. Hildegard of Bingen’s Liber Divinorum Operum III.3

Liber Divinorum Operum III.3:
Theophany of Caritas, Humilitas,
& Pax in the fountain.
(From the Lucca MS)

As we celebrate this weekend St. Hildegard of Bingen’s declaration as a Doctor of the Church, we should reflect on how Hildegard understood her theological vocation to be rooted in the self-revelatory relationship between God and Creation.  I have chosen to translate below one of the visions from Hildegard’s last and greatest work, the Liber Divinorum Operum (Book of Divine Works), in which she offers just such a meditation.  In this work, Hildegard returns to the history of salvation that formed the structure of her first work, Scivias—but this time, prompted by an extraordinary experience of the divine in the early 1160’s, she envisions and explores it through the dynamic relationship between human and divine.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Doctor Viriditatis? St. Hildegard of Bingen’s Doctor of the Church Name

Hildegard of Bingen's portrait.
Rupertsberg Scivias (facs.), fol. 1r.

In commemoration of the Feast of St. Hildegard of Bingen, who died on this day (September 17) in 1179, and in consideration of Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming declaration of her as the thirty-fifth Doctor of the Church, one thing we might wonder about is what her doctoral “nickname” will be.  While not all Doctors of the Church have such monikers, many—especially the medieval and early modern thinkers—are lovingly referred to by these unofficial titles.  For example, the thirteenth-century mendicant-scholastics St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure are known as the Doctor Angelicus (Angelic Doctor) and Doctor Seraphicus (Seraphic Doctor), respectively.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Pope and the Prophetess: Benedict XVI, Hildegard of Bingen, and the Reform of the Church (Part 2)

Liber Divinorum Operum III.5,
from the Lucca MS.

Part 1 of this essay can be found here.

There are two aspects of Joseph Ratzinger’s reformist vision of the Church that find particularly striking parallels in Hildegard of Bingen’s thought: the political relationship between Church and Empire (or secular world), and the renewal of the Church as a purified but dramatically reduced institution.  Although Hildegard’s own reformist thought must be situated within the legacy of the Gregorian reform of the eleventh century, what is most striking are the ways in which she departs—sometimes radically—from a Hildebrandian vision of the Church; and in those departures, Ratzinger follows her, as much as that might be to the chagrin of traditionalists today.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Pope and the Prophetess: Benedict XVI, Hildegard of Bingen, and the Reform of the Church (Part 1)

Portrait of Hildegard of Bingen.
From the Rupertsberg Scivias, fol. 1r.

Part 2 of this essay can be found here.

Today, Pope Benedict XVI formally authorized the liturgical commemoration of St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) and inscribed her name in the catalogue of the saints—effectively concluding the cause for her canonization started 800 years ago.  Later this year he will declare her a Doctor of the Church—an extraordinary honor for a woman whose name was practically unknown (at least in Anglo-American circles) until the latter part of the twentieth century.  Yet, her meteoric rise to superstardom in these last few decades—propelled, first by her music, and then by her talents in other areas of art, natural medicine, feminism, and mysticism—is really only a rebirth.  For most of the centuries between her death in 1179 and the latter twentieth century, Hildegard was known primarily as a visionary prophet of the end times.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In die cinerum: Ash Wednesday Remembrances

The following is a recollection of Ash Wednesday, 2006 (March 1), which I spent in a visit to the Abbey of St. Hildegard of Bingen, in Eibingen, Germany. It was a day that helped change the course of my life.

It was cold, very cold on that Ash Wednesday morning, as I saw the first darts of dawn sparkle on the Rhein’s waters and light the road up the hill to the Abbey of St. Hildegard of Bingen. The bare branches of the grape vines on the slope were dusted with the previous night’s snow, undisturbed by the revelry in Rüdesheim, the town below—the Germans call it Fasching, the French, Mardi Gras. I reveled in neither, for it had been early to bed Tuesday night, early to rise Wednesday morning, that I might catch the trains from Mainz to Rüdesheim in time for the morning service.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Vergil’s Messiah: The Pedagogical Use of Medieval Interpretations of Classical Texts

Vergil and the Sybil receive
a vision of the Nativity of Christ.
From a 14th-cen. chronicle.

This week in the Humanities survey I am teaching this semester, we examined the imperial ideologies developed around Octavian (Augustus) in the last decades before the birth of Christ (or dawn of the Common Era).  I had my freshmen read selections from Books VI and VIII of Vergil’s Aeneid and, more important, Vergil’s Fourth Eclogue.  Written about the year 40 B.C. in the wake of Octavian and Antony’s victory over Caesar’s assassins at Philippi, but before the two Triumvirs descended once more into civil war, the poem expresses Vergil’s hopes for a coming age of restored peace to the Roman world.  As we read through the poem in class, I encouraged the students to think about what the text’s prophetic words might remind them of; and after a few ponderous minutes, one student in each section managed to mutter some form of the name of Christ.