Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hildegard and the Trinity

I recently read an article about Hildegard of Bingen. She was a 12th century whose gifts included being a writer, composer, Christian mystic (person knowledgeable of aspects beyond normal human perception) and Benedictine Abbess. She will soon be designated as a “Doctor of the Church”, which means her writings will be officially endorsed by the Catholic Church.

She had numerous visions over her lifetime but one in particular is especially helpful in understanding the concept of the Trinity.

One of her visions depicts Christ as a sapphire blue figure, standing in the midst of two circles: one golden-colored, its diameter just about the same length as Christ's height; the other, larger one a lighter color, surrounding and enfolding the smaller figure. These circles, in turn, are surrounded by a blue background and a framework of floral designs. This striking image, according to Hildegard, is not just of Christ, but indeed is a vision of the Holy Trinity.
"This is the perception of God's mysteries . . . that bright light bathes the whole of the glowing fire, and the glowing fire bathes the bright light; and the bright light and the glowing fire pour over the whole human figure, so that the three are one light in one power of potential." So writes Hildegard of her vision. In short, the largest circle represents light—the light of God. The inner circle signifies the fire of the Holy Spirit. And of course, the figure, washed in a rich, watery blue, is Christ; not a lonely, bereft Christ but rather, Christ embedded in the fire of the Spirit and the light of the Creator.

 ...Somehow, in our time, Hildegard has been "reinterpreted" by the Vatican to be deemed worthy of the title Doctor of the Church. But I think Hildegard's true worth remains not in her theology but in her visions, her music, her art. It is as a contemplative that Hildegard's most singular, creative, and innovative gifts can be found. The sapphire Christ, surrounded by luminous circles of fire and light, will show us the way.

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