Music to My Ears: A Reflection on Saint Hildegard's Contributions to the Church

There are those today who refer to the Catholic church as having been a negative influence on western culture. That it has been repressive and has oppressed women.  

How can the church be regarded as being oppressive when such art, architecture and music has been created to honor the Divinity of Our Lord?

It is so ironic because the church built western culture, creating all of the beauty that people now seek out when they visit Europe, such as the architecture of the churches, the shrines, works of art by the masters, such as Michelangelo and Rembrandt to name a very few. Visitors seek to be lifted up in viewing these works. And, they are.

There are works of music that also transcend time, and speak to the divinity of Christ and his bride, the church, such as the music of Saint Hildegard of Bignen (d.1179). Her works praise God and the saints and is seen as "a symphony of angels praising God."* 

In addition to her musical gifts, Saint Hildegard was also a writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, Benedictine abbess, and was deeply learned. She wrote on such subjects as theology, philosophy, botany, medicine and cosmology.

 Interestingly, Saint Hildegard's canonization is regarded as complicated, in that the details are not clearly understood.  Regardless, in 2012, Pope Benedict XVI, elevated her, and thus her contributions to the church, when he named Saint Hildegard a Doctor of the Church.

Saint Hildegard composed this music approximately 900 years ago, in a form known as plainchant. It is hauntingly beautiful and can only be described as divinely inspired.

Did the church really oppress women?

I do not think so. Just listen to the work of Saint Hildegard and ask yourself whether this was the work of an oppressed woman. 



Peter's Bride 

* Click on link to view original source of quote.

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