Sabina Flanagan offers an online biography of Hildegard, so I’ll let the academic biographer summarize this amazing woman for us:
Hildegard von Bingen—visionary, poet, composer, naturalist, healer, and theologian—founded convents; corresponded with secular and ecclesiastical leaders, as well as a vast range of people of lesser rank; and ventured forth as a monastic trouble-shooter, consultant exorcist, and visiting preacher. Even more remarkable for a woman of her time was the body of written work she produced. Its range—from natural history and medicine to cosmology, music, poetry, and theology—surpasses that of most other male contemporaries; it also possesses great beauty and witnesses to Hildegard’s intellectual power. (http://hildegard.org/documents/flanagan.html)
Loyola Press is celebrating connections between food and faith—we posted the link on Monday. Rather than a Mystical Monday, today we’re quoting a bit from St. Hildegard’s observations/revelations about food. These excerpts are from From Saint Hildegard’s Kitchen: Foods of Health, Foods of Joy by Jany Fournier-Rosset (Ligouri, MO: Ligouri, 2010). I hope soon to try the recipe for chestnut soup or cauliflower terrine.
Hildegard’s description of:
“Nutmeg has a great warmth and maintains a happy equilibrium in its qualities. Those who eat it open their hearts, purify their senses, and derive a good disposition from it.”
Garlic has “proper heat and has its liveliness from the vigor of the dew, from the first sleep of night until daybreak nearly arrives in the morning. For sick as well as healthy people, garlic is more healthful to eat than leeks.”
“Lavender is hot and dry, having very little moisture. . . . Its odor clears the eyes and curbs very many evil things.”
Her cure for bad breath: “After cooking sage leaves in wine and straining the mixture through a cheesecloth, drink often and the bad humors and mucus will diminish.”
And, to end on a more directly “spiritual” note:
Peace has wings capable of flying, one on each side, stretched out and ready to soar. When faced with either tranquility or trouble, Peace flies up to God. She doesn’t give in to terror or bitterness; she remains calm and harmonious. By the combined effort of her two wings, she embraces the one God and persists only in serenity, which is not shaken by the uncertainty of good or evil.
Above all, Peace never seeks disagreement or conflict, but only kindness, always.
—Scivias, quoted in A Little Daily Wisdom: Christian Women Mystics, Carmen Acevedo Butcher (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2008)