On the way with Hildegard. Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was recently declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict. She had a broad knowledge of the Bible, theology, philosophy and natural history. Her rich knowledge of the church fathers and the desert fathers of Egypt were an inexhaustible source of inspiration and formed the basis of her work. God granted her visions which she set down in the book called the Scivias. So, inspired by this saint, I set about exploring her life in Bingen.
Just as Saint Hildegard held the people of her day spellbound so too I am held spellbound by her as I walk the streets of Bingen and reconstruct in my mind her life.
After a long and bitter dispute in Disibodenberg in 1150 she moved her abbey to Rupertsberg which is accross the river Nahe from Bingen. The Abbey was destroyed by the Swedes in the 30 years war. Here is a model.
When the abbey was destroyed by the Swedish Protestants the sisters escaped with her relics which are today housed in the church of Eibingen. The second monastery Saint Hildegard established in Eibingen across from the first monastery in Bingen. This was destroyed in the bombings but rebuilt (and houses her relics).
In 1165 she moved across the Rhine river and resettled the monastery of Eibingen. Today the parish church remains.
In 1803 the convent at Eibingen was disolved in the course of secularization. Bishop Blum was driven from his office by the Prussian State and given refuge by Prince Karl in Bohemia. His successor worked with the Prince to revive the old convent in Eibingen. And he built the new convent so in 1904 moved from Prague and in 1908 the abbey was vested with all the privileges of the former Abbey of Hildegard.
So thanks to the efforts of Prince Karl the monastic tradition of Saint Hildegard flourishes where it all begin. Spending these days walking through the streets in Bingen and Rudesheim and through the surrounding countryside was a moment where I felt the presence of this holy woman who had such a passionate love for God and the world he created.