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.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

New Article: "The prophetess and the pope: St. Hildegard of Bingen, Pope Benedict XVI, and prophetic visions of church reform"

Nathaniel M. Campbell, "The prophetess and the pope: St. Hildegard of Bingen, Pope Benedict XVI, and prophetic visions of church reform," postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies 10.1 (2019), 22-35; read online for free here.

Just published in a special issue devoted to "Prophetic Futures," this article explores the affinities between St. Hildegard of Bingen and Pope Benedict XVI that may have led him to canonize her and declare her a Doctor of the Church in 2012. It pays special attention to their views on the Church's prophetic mission and prophecy's role in reforming it.


Pope Benedict XVI seemed an unlikely fellow to declare Hildegard of Bingen a Doctor of the Church in 2012. Yet Joseph Ratzinger’s studies as a medievalist disposed him to the symbolist tendencies of Hildegard and her contemporaries in reflecting on the relationship among scripture, history, and the Church. Deeply affected by the abuse of political power and corruption within the Church, both Ratzinger and Hildegard developed prophetic outlooks on the nature of the Church and its mission in the world, centered on the singular light of Christ’s Incarnation. We find, across the centuries, a shared embrace of the enigmatic tension between the Church’s corrupted institutions and their prophetic renewal. Ironically, Hildegard came to distrust the authority of the papacy and prophesied its ending, even as Benedict would be, as pope, her greatest champion.

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