How Can a 12th Century Nun Be an Inspiration Today?

When I was a little girl, I remember dreaming of singing on stage and having the power of my voice inspire others. This idea terrified me, but I still dreamed about it! 

As a young woman in my 20s, I soon discovered that there weren’t many avenues for women to pursue their dreams. Door after door seemed to be shut. I remember how disappointed I was at this realization.

One very dark moment stands out in my memory.

I’d just returned to New York City after a year of living with the Otomi Indians in Mexico where I had been an active part of a Catholic community. I was completely horrified at what I experienced in the nuns’ attitudes toward the Otomi beliefs.

I longed for a place where the role of women and even the divine feminine could be expressed fully in the world. I knew I wasn’t going to find this in the Catholic church. My heart was broken.

Just a short time after this, I attended a workshop led by Matthew Fox. He was a Catholic priest and had just written his book, Original Blessing.

I approached him with demanding questions, fueled with the passion and anger of being a young woman in the world, “What is the deal with the Catholic Church? Why do they shut down indigenous people? Shut down women? And men also, for that matter? Why do they shut down our creativity?”

Surprisingly, Matthew just smiled and replied, “Jeannine, you should check out Hildegard of Bingen.”

That was the day that my journey with St. Hildegard began!

I never would’ve dreamed at that moment how important she, as a 12th century Catholic nun, would become in my life.

In the following years, inspired by what I learned of St. Hildegard, there was a tidal wave of creativity that flowed, bringing strength, healing, and joy to me. And my connection to her over the years has continued to transform my life.

That’s why I’m passionate about sharing about the life of St. Hildegard and the wisdom of her teachings today.

Are you wondering how a nun from the 12th century could possibly be an inspiration to us today?

St. Hildegard of Bingen was truly ahead of her time – birthing many new creations into the world even if it wasn’t quite ready for them yet. She was a renowned mystic, healer, and scientist as well as a writer, artist, composer, and visionary. 

We can look beyond what lived in the time and place where she resided and seek what lived within her soul as gifts that she offered to the world. We can be inspired by her determination, her perseverance, and her strength as she conquered obstacle after obstacle in her life. We can be inspired by her trust in the Divine.

We might even consider her a patron saint of creativity we can call upon, offering us support and guidance as we pursue our own creative dreams. Here are 4 of the most powerful lessons that stand the test of time centuries later and are gifts to us today.

1.Be Inspired by life.

One of Hildegard’s creative contributions is her idea of viriditas. Translated as “greening power,”viriditas can be described as the divine life force that lives and breathes within all living beings. It makes all things grow, expand, and thrive. And it’s the force that returns, after being absent, when healing occurs after an illness. We experience it in the dynamic growth of plants in nature as well as our own sense of health. 

2.You are a creative being with a purpose.

St. Hildegard needed to be courageous to bring forth her creative visions into the world during her time. One of her greatest ones was her vision to build her own abbey. St. Hildegard’s commitment to bring this project to fruition was fueled by the inspiring work she saw from St. Rupert in the 7th century. Her song, O Jerusalem, is a celebration of this new creation, her abbey, and the respect and even kinship she felt toward St. Rupert.

3. Discover your inner strength and trust in the Divine.

A favorite image of mine is of St. Hildegard holding her abbess staff. She radiated with her own inner strength and power even as she had trust in the Divine.

4.It’s possible to manifest your soul’s creative purpose even through obstacles.

St. Hildegard lived to the age of 81 in a time when a typical lifespan was half that! She worked with determination despite many obstacles including her own limiting beliefs about herself.

In the process of building her own abbey on the Rhine River, she faced many obstacles. Yet, she continued with courage to move forward and build Rupertsberg, a place to manifest the Power of the Living Light.

And then at the age of 67, she even created a second abbey!

St. Hildegard seems to be calling us today to share our creative visions with the world. New and inspiring ideas are needed!

What might you birth as creative work into the world? 

Want to learn some spiritual practices inspired by St Hildegard to help you connect with you inner beauty and manifest your creative dreams? Check out my upcoming FREE masterclass: “3 Spiritual Gems”. Find out more here.