St. Hildegard von Bingen

Hildegard von Bingen -- or Hildegard of Bingen, in English -- was a true Renaissance woman, which is a bit ironic since she lived a full two centuries before the Renaissance began. Her feast day is today, September 17.

Saint Hildegard, now one of the only four women Doctors of the Catholic church, was gifted in art, cooking, herbology, music composition, writing, and medicine. She was given "visions" (though she experienced them in all five senses) and instructions from God throughout her life starting when she was three years old.


Lifetime: 1098 to 1179
Region: Roman Empire (current-day Germany)
Patronages (informal): Artists; Musicians; Cooks; Creativity
Iconograpy: Book & quill; Harp; Plants; Flame upon her head
Feast Day: September 17


Frankly, it's hard to write about Hildegard because she did so much. Her beer recipe is the oldest known recipe to contain hops. Her collection of "spice that bring joy" are now key ingredients in the increasingly pervasive Pumpkin Spice (is it a coincidence her feast day is in mid-September?). There's a genus of plants named after her. She's considered the founder of natural history in Germany. She exchanged correspondence with at least two popes, an emperor, and several other saints. David Lynch (yes, the Twin Peaks and Eraserhead guy) co-recorded an album based on her composition. She published a scientific journal, hagiographies, three theology books, a play, cookbooks, two medicinal textbooks, a book of poetry/chant, invented her own conlang, and even illustrated her own works in an iconic wheels-of-fire style:


Oh, and she did all this between bouts of paralyzing illness since birth.

Though she had a cult following (that's in the Catholic meaning of the word, a sort of unofficial veneration by the laity) from practically the moment of her death (if not earlier), it wasn't until 2012 that she was officially canonized as a saint by Pope Bendedict XVI. He then named her as a Doctor of the church only five months later.

For all those reasons (plus the fact that she's my spouse's patron saint!), I'm happy to name St. Hildegard von Bingen as September's Saints for Weirdos / Lego Hagiography (hey, gotta start considering that book deal!).

In the words of St. Hildegard: Cervisium Bibat! (that's "drink [beer] for health" for those of you who haven't started the Duolingo Latin course yet).

Join me next month for a saint I'm ecstatic to tell you about.

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