Trithemius on Hildegard of Bingen: English translation
Hildegard, a nun and abbess of the monastery of St. Rupert confessor opposite the
town of Bingen on the other side of the river Nahe, in the diocese of Mainz: of the
order of St. Benedict, born in the county of Sponheim, a sometime disciple of the
blessed virgin Gutta, sister of Meginhard, count of Sponheim, our founder: a virgin of
holy ways and illuminated from her childhood with divine revelations: in her lifetime
she was famous for many miracles, and the odour of her sanctity spread into distant
regions, so that the popes Eugenius III, Anastasius IV, Adrian IV and Alexander III
themselves made frequent mention of her in their writings, and commended
themselves and the church of Rome to her prayers. Indeed, Eugenius III at the
Council of Trier, in the presence of St. Bernard and many cardinals, bishops, abbots
and clergy approved the books of this virgin which had been publicly read out to
them as divinely inspired and consonant with the Catholic faith and wrote apostolic
letters urging them to hold fast to their original intentions. She wrote many books
revealed to her by angels, of which the following survive.
A short explanation of the Rule of St. Benedict, one book.
To the monk Wibert on thirty questions which he propounded to her, one book.
A life of St. Rupert, duke and confessor, one book.
A life of St. Disibod, the Irish bishop who came to Germany as a pilgrim for Christ,
and rests in the county of Sponheim, famous for many miracles, one book.
She composed fifty eight homilies on the gospels for Sundays, which are most
obscure and comprehensible only to devout and well educated people.
On the sacrament of the altar against certain heretics of that time, one book.
A large volume which she gave the title Scivias, or Know the Ways, that is of God
and his saints, of whom she disputes very subtly and piously.
Another, which she entitled The need for a life of merits not to be scorned, three
Another, entitled Simple medicine, one book.
Another, entitled Composite medicine, one book.
In these last she referst the wonders and secrets of nature to the spiritual sense in a
subtle exposition, things such as a woman could simply not know except from the
She wrote another great volume whose title is Of Divine Works, one book.
To the clergy of the city of Trier, on catastrophes which are to befall the church, one
To those of Cologne on the same matter, one book.
In them she predicts wonders but does not specify a time.
She wrote an exhortation for worldly people at the request of some prists, one book.
An exhortation to her sisters, one book.
To the grey monks, one book.
Various songs set to a sweet tune.
To St. Bernard of Clairvaux, one letter.
Letters to various people, one book.
Of these I have read 135, in which Catholic teaching shines forth to all, fortifying faith
or instilling discipline. In the same book of lettters we saw many letters of emperors
Conrad I and Frederick I, and many bishops of Mainz, Trier, Cologne, Bremen,
Jerusalem, Bamberg, Works, Speyer and well nigh countless others from different
regions of the world who were moved by here famed holiness and divine revelations
to commend themselves to her prayers by messenger or letter and sought her answer
to various questions.
She died under emperor Frederick I, A.D. 1180, in the thirteenth indiction, on 18
September aged 82. She is buried in the middle of the choir of the said monastery of
St. Rupert before the great altar.