I wrote about St Brigid in my recent email to you claiming her as one of my favourite saints.
I thought I would mention another favourite as in some ways she puts me very much in mind of St Brigid.
Hildegard of Bingen was yet another feisty powerful woman in a patriarchal context speaking truth to power.
She was a polymath; passionate about the earth, stood up to injustice and was a sustainer of the needy and vulnerable.
Like St Brigid she seems especially present at this time of the year as spring approaches and we await the 'greening' of nature. For Hildegard this greening power was the creative life force that is inherent in all of nature, including us humans and it is that which calls us all to be fruitful co-creators with the divine
Heldegard named this greening power 'Viriditas'. Hildegard was a 12th century Benedictine nun at a monastery, which had enclosures for both men and women, in Disibodenberg in the Rhineland.
After not an insignificant battle with the patriarchal powers she eventually built an Abbey in Bingen for her nuns so that they could become entirely independent of the monastery.
Hildegarde was a healer and an herbalist and wrote two books on medicine at a time when women in the church were not allowed to write.
She was a preacher at a time when women were definitely not allowed to preach, she was a poet, a composer, an artist and a mystic who received incredible visions from God.
Hildegarde quite simply refused to comply with the patriarchal values of the male dominated context in which she lived.
She could easily have been put to death as a heretic but the creative power that stemmed from her relationship with God made her quite fearless and so she forged ahead regardless.
She lived to the age of 81 and left an incredible legacy of music, art, visionary writing and continues to be a role model for eco activism.
In 2012 she was both canonised and became a Doctor of the church. Today she is a much-loved figure and continues to inspire men and women both in the church and beyond.
Last August I was all booked to visit Bingen as part of my sabbatical to do a deeper study of Hildegard but the pandemic put paid to that!
I still plan to do this study at some point though as I believe that Hildegard still has much to teach the church today.
Reverend Jayne E. Webb