St Hildegard of Bingen

6th February

Earlier this week and prompted by the sight of snowdrops in the garden I reflected on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the prophecy of Simeon to the Sorrows of Mary, our Cathedral Church and my coat of arms.

Now, just days later I am caused to return to the coat of arms because I read that, on Tuesday, Pope Francis had approved 17th September for the liturgical celebration of Saint Hildegard of Bingen, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, in a Decree from The Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments as an Optional Memorial in the Roman Calendar.

It is from a letter of St. Hildegard to the monks at St Eucharius (Monastery) in Trier that the motto on my coat of arms comes:


VIVITE ET VIGILATE IN DEO – LIVE AND BE VIGILANT IN GOD.


The community still exists to-day and is known as the Abbey of St. Matthias.

In her letter Hildegard exhorts the male religious to higher religious standards.

Hildegard (1098-1179), was one of the most remarkable figures of the Middle Ages - a Benedictine nun, poet and musician, visionary, polymath, Christian mystic, philosopher, and herbalist. She undertook preaching tours throughout the German empire at the age of sixty and was consulted not only by her religious contemporaries – abbots, bishops and popes - but also by kings and emperors.

She was canonised by Pope Benedict XVI in the spring of 2012 with her feast day on 17th September and then, on that first feast day in 2012, he declared her a Doctor of the Church.

Bingen is at the confluence of the rivers Rhine and Nahe.

Holy Spirit, quickening life,

moving all things, the root in all creation,

who washes all things of impurity,

removing sins and soothing wounds

who is shining light and laudable life,

wakening and reawakening all things.

Antiphon for the Holy Spirit I from The Symphony of the Harmony of Celestial Revelations (1151-1158)

It is certainly a feast I’ll be celebrating just days after the anniversary of my episcopal ordination.

+ Peter

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