Hildegard on the Trinity  

Posted by Joe Rawls



Hildegard (1098-1179), abbess of the monastery of St Rupertsberg in the Rhineland town of Bingen, was a mystic as well as a polymath--she had expertise in theology, pholosophy, natural history, medicine, and, especially, music. The tenth child of a minor noble family, she was given as a child to the Benedictine monastery of St Disibode. This was a so-called "double monastery" (monks and nuns shared the premises, though in separate living quarters), and she was taken under the wing of Jutta, an anchoress. As a child, Hildegard manifested what could be considered psychic abilities; in her 43rd year she had a series of vivid, detailed visions that are described in her illuminated book Scivias. The onset and nature of the visions are consistent with what modern medicine knows of migraine, and she has been described as "the most distinguished migraine sufferer". The actual content of the visions, by contrast, is unique.

On today's feast, I leave you with the collect for the day taken from Lesser Feasts and Fasts, followed by an excerpt (complete with illumination appearing at the top of the post) from Vision Two ("The Trinity") of the Scivias (Paulist Press, 1990, pp 161-162). There is also a very well-done video on Hildegard produced by Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall Street.

Collect

God of all times and seasons: Give us grace that we, after the example of your servant Hildegard, may both know and make known the joy and jubilation of being part of your creation, and show forth your glory not only with our lips but in our lives; Through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Vision Two

Then I saw a bright light, and in this light the figure of a man the color of a sapphire, which was all blazing with a gentle glowing fire. And that bright light bathed the whole of the glowing fire, and the glowing fire bathed the bright light; and the bright light and the glowing fire poured over the whole human figure, so that the three were one light in one power of potential. And again I heard the living Light, saying to me: ....
Therefore you see a bright light, which without any flaw of illusion, deficiency, or deception designates the Father; and in this light the figure of a man the color of a sapphire, which without any flaw of obstinacy, envy, or iniquity designates the Son, Who was begotten of the Father in Divinity before time began, and then within time was incarnate in the world in Humanity; which is all blazing with a gentle glowing fire, which fire without any flaw of aridity, mortality, or darkness designates the Holy spirit, by Whom the Only-Begotten of God was conceived in the flesh and born of the Virgin within time and poured the true light into the world. And that bright light bathes the the whole of the glowing fire, and the glowing fire bathes the bright light; and the bright light and the glowing fire pour over the whole human figure, so that the three are one light in one power of potential. And this means that the Father, Who is Justice, is not without the Son or the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit, Who kindles the hearts of the faithful, is not without the Father or the Son; and the Son, Who is the plenitude of fruition, is not without the Father or the Holy Spirit. They are inseparable in Divine Majesty, for the Father is not without the Son, nor the Son without the Father, nor the Father and the Son without the Holy Spirit, nor the Holy Spirit without Them. Thus these three Persons are one God in the one and perfect divinity of majesty, and the unity of Their divinity is unbreakable; the Divinity cannot be rent asunder, for it remains inviolable without change. But the Father is declared through the Son, the Son through Creation, and the Holy Spirit through the Son incarnate. How? It is the Father Who begot the Son before the ages; the Son through Whom all things were made by the Father when creatures were created; and the Holy Spirit Who, in the likeness of a dove, appeared at the baptism of the Son of God before the end of time.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2008 at Wednesday, September 17, 2008 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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