Hildegard von Bingen to be named Doctor of the Church

Colorful image of Hildegard von Bingen writing musicAccording to the Vatican Insider, Pope Benedict plans to name Hildegard von Bingen a Doctor of the Church in October 2012.

I first heard about Hildegard when her compositions of Gregorian chant were performed and recorded on CD some years ago. (This was actually the first I’d ever heard that women ever sang Gregorian chant, let alone composed it!) She was an abbess in the 12th century, a mystic, and a theologian. Feminist historians have pointed out that in medieval times, religious life often provided an opportunity for talented women to develop and exercise their talents, and by all accounts Hildegard was one of these. In 2009, the movie Vision was made of the story of her life.

The title Doctor of the Church is a high honor bestowed by popes on theologians that have made significant, wide-ranging contributions to the theology of the church. (“Doctor” in this sense has the Latin/Italian sense of dottore, more like “professor” than what we think of as “doctor”.) There are only 33 Doctors of the Church presently, including such greats as Augustine, John Chrysostom, and Thomas Aquinas. Only three of them are women: Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, and Therese of Lisieux. Hildegard of Bingen would be the fourth.

This is wonderfully exciting news. Blessed Hildegard, pray for us!

(H/T Mount Saint Agnes Theological Center for Women.)

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One Response to Hildegard von Bingen to be named Doctor of the Church

  1. Pingback: A Church Musician’s Litany of Saints | Gaudete Theology

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