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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.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

O vox praeclara: A Chronogram for the Feast of St. Hildegard of Bingen

St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
Stained-glass window (restored),
Rochuskapelle / Museum am Strom.
o VoX praeCLara,
VIDens In LVCe VIVente:
praeCepta DeI
nobIs persones,
Vt opera eIVs VIrIDa
In nobIs fLoreantVr.

(O vox praeclara, videns in luce vivente: praecepta Dei nobis persones, ut opera eius virida in nobis floreantur.)

(O illustrious voice, seeing within the Living Light: ring out for us the precepts of God, so that his verdant works might flourish within us.)

For 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 two particularly characteristic aspects of her thought and teaching: the synaesthetic experience of her prophetic mission from a God who met her in both light and sound; and the nature of God’s commandments to humankind to enact his verdant, flourishing works.

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, + 10 I’s = 2015. 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, which appeared in Festschriften for the Sibyl of the Rhine in 1979 and 1998.

Here is a list of the previous chronograms I have composed for St. Hildegard:

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