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. My translation of Hildegard's Book of Divine Works is available from Catholic University of America Press here. 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.

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.