Pope Lauds Hildegard's Docility to Spirit, Church

Points to Example of 12th-Century Nun, Mystic

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 1, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Calling to mind the valuable role of women in the Church, Benedict XVI today offered the testimony of a 12th-century German nun and mystic: Hildegard of Bingen.

The Pope spoke of the saint during his address at today’s general audience in Castel Gandolfo.

St. Hildegard (1098-1179) was born of a noble family and entrusted at an early age to God’s service. In 1136, she was made the superior of her cloister, and a year later, founded another community to provide for the growing number of young women who wanted to join the group.

«The style with which she exercised the ministry of authority is exemplary for every religious community: It inspired a holy emulation in the practice of goodness, so much so that, as we see from testimonies of the time, the mother and the daughters competed in their reciprocal esteem and service,» the Holy Father said.

In addition to her service leading the cloister, Hildegard was also a mystic who received visions.

«As always happens in the life of true mystics, Hildegard, too, wanted to be subject to the authority of wise persons to discern the origin of her visions, fearing that they were the fruit of illusions and that they did not come from God,» the Pontiff noted.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux and later, Pope Eugene III, confirmed Hildegard’s mysticism, however, and the nun’s «spiritual prestige grew increasingly, so much so that her contemporaries attributed to her the title of ‘Teutonic prophetess,'» the Pope explained.

He added: «This is, dear friends, the seal of an authentic experience of the Holy Spirit, source of every charism: The receiver of supernatural gifts never boasts, does not exhibit them and, above all, shows total obedience to ecclesial authority.

«Every gift distributed by the Holy Spirit, in fact, is destined for the edification of the Church, and the Church, through her pastors, recognizes their authenticity.»

Benedict XVI said he would talk again next Wednesday of Hildegard, affirming that she «speaks with great timeliness also to us today.»

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-30220?l=english

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