|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.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.
—Liber Divinorum Operum I.2.42