St. Hildegard

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By Catholic Digest Staff

St. Hildegard

Feast Day: September 17


A fragile girl who received the habit when she was only fifteen, no one would have guessed that Hildegard would blossom into an adept religious with accomplishments in music, medicine, natural history, writing, and even plumbing. It would also have been difficult to picture her writing devastatingly blunt letters to archbishops, calling them out for their sins and demanding change, since God had “numbered their days” for their selfishness. That’s because Hildegard had a secret, and one she originally wished she could take to the grave. Only three years after she was born in 1098, she began seeing divine visions and experiencing holy revelations, which she found to be a great source of embarrassment. “I was completely absorbed in what I saw. I used to say many things that seemed strange to those who heard me. This made me blush and cry,” she wrote, describing her desire to die on the spot from shame. She did her best to hide her experiences, and told them only to a trusted confident, a noblewoman. She suffered from chronic illness, particularly headaches, and struggled with an overwhelming urge to write down the words she heard. She resisted, fearful of being mocked, but the mysterious internal pressure continued to build. Unable to stand it any longer the young woman finally told her confessor everything. The monk asked her to write down some of her experiences, and the Archbishop of Mainz declared the visions genuine. They promised to help her record and share her experiences. Instantly, her headaches vanished, and she felt like, “a feather on the breath of God.”

Catholic Digest Staff