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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.

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.)

In honor of today’s Feast of St. Hildegard of Bingen, Doctor of the Church (d. September 17, 1179), I have composed this chronogram and prayer. It reflects the ways in which we are taught by her visionary experiences of the “Living Light” (lux vivens), her understanding of both God’s work in us and our work for God (opus, articulated especially in her last and greatest work, the Liber Divinorum Operum), and the title imperative of her first major work, Scivias (“Know the Ways”).

The chronogram is an epigrammatic prayer (in this case) where, if you take all of the letters that are also Roman numerals (I, V[U], X, L, C, D, and M, which are capitalized in the prayer above) and add their values together, the result is the year you are trying to commemorate. In this case, 3 D’s = 1500, + 3 C’s = 1800, + 3 L’s = 1950, + 1 X = 1960, + 9 V’s = 2005, + 8 I’s = 2013. This is my second chronogram for Hildegard; I composed my first last year (2012) to commemorate her declaration as a Doctor of the Church.

I was inspired to write chronograms to honor Hildegard by those composed by Sr. Walburga Storch, O.S.B., a nun of the Abbey of St. Hildegard in Eibingen, Germany. These included one for the 800th anniversary of Hildegard’s death in 1979, published as the dedication to Hildegard von Bingen 1179-1979: Festschrift zum 800. Todestag der Heiligen, ed. Anton Philipp Brück (Gesellschaft f. Mittelrhein. Kirchengesch., 1979): “hILDegarDIs prophetIssa / DeCVs eCCLesIae / sIt nobIs LVX / In ItInere.”; and a chronogram for the 900th anniversary of Hildegard’s birth in 1998, which appeared as the dedication to Hildegard von Bingen: Prophetin durch die Zeiten: zum 900. Geburtstag, ed. Edeltraud Forster (Freiburg: Herder, 1997): “paX / hILDegarDIs prophetIssa, / VIas VItae DoCens, / In hoC saeCVLo / nobIs sIt LVX.”

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