Fire – Scivias – Hildegard von Bingen

Hildegard von Bingen – Voices of Angels – Voices of Ascension

Hildegard of Bingen, O.S.B. (German: Hildegard von Bingen; Latin: Hildegardis Bingensis; 1098 – 17 September 1179), also known as Saint Hildegard and Sibyl of the Rhine, was a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath.[1][2] She is considered to be the founder of scientific natural history in Germany.[3]

Hildegard says that she first saw “The Shade of the Living Light” at the age of three, and by the age of five she began to understand that she was experiencing visions.[20] She used the term ‘visio’ to this feature of her experience, and recognized that it was a gift that she could not explain to others. Hildegard explained that she saw all things in the light of God through the five senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.[21] Hildegard was hesitant to share her visions, confiding only to Jutta, who in turn told Volmar, Hildegard’s tutor and, later, secretary.[22] Throughout her life, she continued to have many visions, and in 1141, at the age of 42, Hildegard received a vision she believed to be an instruction from God, to “write down that which you see and hear.”[23] Still hesitant to record her visions, Hildegard became physically ill. The illustrations recorded in the book of Scivias were visions that Hildegard experienced, causing her great suffering and tribulations.[24] In her first theological text, Scivias (“Know the Ways”), Hildegard describes her struggle within:

But I, though I saw and heard these things, refused to write for a long time through doubt and bad opinion and the diversity of human words, not with stubbornness but in the exercise of humility, until, laid low by the scourge of God, I fell upon a bed of sickness; then, compelled at last by many illnesses, and by the witness of a certain noble maiden of good conduct [the nun Richardis von Stade] and of that man whom I had secretly sought and found, as mentioned above, I set my hand to the writing. While I was doing it, I sensed, as I mentioned before, the deep profundity of scriptural exposition; and, raising myself from illness by the strength I received, I brought this work to a close – though just barely – in ten years. (…) And I spoke and wrote these things not by the invention of my heart or that of any other person, but as by the secret mysteries of God I heard and received them in the heavenly places. And again I heard a voice from Heaven saying to me, ‘Cry out therefore, and write thus!'[25]

Scivias book

The divisions of the book follows, based largely on the illuminations, using the titles assigned each vision by Adelgundis Führkötter, the editor of the critical edition (the original text does not give titles). Where multiple titles are given, multiple illuminations are provided.[20] Each vision is followed by commentary divided into sections (given functional titles in the original manuscripts), the number of which is designated in parentheses.[21]

Part I
God, the Light-Giver and Humanity (6)
The Fall (33)
God, Cosmos, and Humanity (31)
Humanity and Life (32)
Synagogue (8)
The Choirs of Angels (12)

Illumination accompanying the second vision of Part II
Part II
The Savior (17)
The Triune God (9)
The Church as Mother of Believers – The Baptism (37)
Anointed with Virtue – The Confirmation (14)
The Hierarchy of the Church (60)
The Sacrifice of Christ and the Church; Continuation of the Mystery in the Partaking of the Sacrifice (102)
Humanity’s Fight Against Evil; The Tempter (25)
Part III
The Omnipotent; The Extinguished Stars (18)
The Building (28)
The Tower of Preparation; The Divine Virtues in the Tower of Preparation (13)
The Pillar of the Word of God; The Knowledge of God (22)
The Zeal of God (33)
The Triple Wall (35)
The Pillar of the Trinity (11)
The Pillar of the Humanity of the Savior (25)
The Tower of the Church (29)
The Son of Man (32)
The End of Time (42)
The Day of the Great Revelation; The New Heaven and the New Earth (16)
Praise of the Holy (16)


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