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Hildegard becomes Doctor of the Church
For only the fourth time in history a woman will soon be given the title of Doctor of the Church. On October 7, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI will appoint Hildegard of Bingen with the honor, which has been previously bestowed on 33 people.
Though often referred to as Saint Hildegard, she has never been canonized, which the pope will do prior to naming her as a Doctor of the Church.
Hildegard was born in 1098 to a wealthy family that sent her to a monastery to study at the young age of 8. She later became a nun and then a Benedictine abbess of Rupertsburg on the Rhine, near Bingen, Germany. She took incredible personal risks to fight for the rights of women and the oppressed, centuries ahead of her time. She was a visionary, a composer, philosopher, physicist, and ecologist. She believed in the curative powers of natural objects for healing and promoted healthy eating utilizing the natural elements. As a hobby, she created a language of her own composed of 900 words and 23 letters.
The Sisters of St. Benedict have a special reverence toward Saint Hildegard. Sister Mary Dominic Frederick, archivist at the monastery, said, “We are attracted to Hildegard because she is a historically renowned Benedictine abbess because of her works. She lived in a time when many monasteries needed reformed, and she worked to improve them. She was also a talented composer. Her music is internationally recognized as being beautiful and exquisitely composed.”
The Sisters of St. Benedict of Ferdinand, along with the entire church, celebrate the feast of St. Hildegard on September 17. Hildegard cookies, one of the sisters’ Indiana Artisan cookies made by Simply Divine Bakery, are based on a Hildegard recipe. Hildegard recommended her recipe to slow the aging process, create a cheerful countenance, lighten a heavy heart, and release intelligence.
The St. Hildegard Society was established by the Sisters of St. Benedict of Ferdinand to recognize the people who create a lasting legacy by including the sisters in their estate plans. The name was chosen to honor Hildegard’s staunch defense of the sanctity of all life and her appeals to her contemporaries to be co-creators of goodness and caretakers of the earth. The contributors in the society are also forward-thinking in leaving a heritage for future generations.
The sisters also choose Hildegard as the patron of their health center, Hildegard Health Center.
Pope Benedict XVI, born in Germany, has dedicated several of his general audiences to Hildegard. According to romereports.com, He said that she “served the Church in an age in which it was wounded by the sins of priests and laity.”
The title of Doctor of the Church is given to saints whose theological teaching is deemed valid for all time.