Read Alwyn Marriage’s beautiful poem about Hildegard von Bingen from the site on Women’s Literary Culture and the Medieval Canon.
Hildegard: Doctor of the Church
Hildegard believed that herbs for the body’s healing
had a part to play, with prayer, in the soul’s salvation;
and perceiving the greening of earth and heaven
from far beyond our human understanding,
she celebrated Viriditas, the force that flows
through all that’s green and good, in all that grows.
Like many other women since,
she posed a challenge to the Church,
displaying a deep learning never found
in books the clergy knew,
communicated in an alphabet they couldn’t read,
and if they could, they wouldn’t understand.
Down the centuries we hear her songs of glory
soaring higher in ripieno praise,
above the black-clad choir stalls
and dusty academic libraries
of those who failed to grasp that wisdom
could be grounded in a woman’s native wit.
As she joins the other doctors of the Church:
Térèse, Theresa, Catherine of Sienna,
along with sundry men, the question hovers:
will those without a voice today
nine hundred years from now be heard,
* Hildegard, Visions & Inspiration, edited by Gabriel Griffin, published by Wyvern Works, Italy, 2012.