Book Review by Dr. Christine Cameron. Hildegard of Bingen:A Poetic Journey

AFFIRMING REVIEW        by     Dr Christine Cameron

Hildegard’s life sings and dances across the pages of this engaging harmony of her works, set out in this poetic journey that commences at the twilight of her life and then rewinds back through the lens of time. There is the separation from family to “entombment” in an anchorage with Jutta and another; words that then envelop the reader in frigid emotions of isolation and confinement – words that explore the lack of warmth amidst sanctity and penance! Nevertheless, an inner glow returns with the descriptive analysis of freedom becoming a reality, when there is a re-emergence into the light and life of the monastery – its interior and exterior – its undulating fields and its healing life-giving plants.

While engaged on the journey the foremost characters are given personalities that leap lifelike from the pages – Jutta is a living saint who projects perfection; the personality clash with the Head Abbot Kuno simmers and grows; the bond between Hildegard and her sisters is as a mother with her daughters; Hildegard’s incredible friendship with the ever faithful Volmar and her undying but questionable love for the young Richardis when there was a need to treat all equally – demonstrate a logical progression of words and ideas leading to a climax. As magistra – teacher Hildegard’s awareness of the confinement of the monastery leads her to respond to the “divine call” for change and meeting the challenges she creates new foundations with her group of nuns. 

A mystical writer, a visionary, a healer, a scientist, a writer of plays, a musician – what a woman! In this Poetic Journey Hildegard’s genius is explored with cadences and rhythms that flow from verse to verse and page to page. There is the illness that plagues her through her long life which ends in pain and sanctified silence but is expertly shown by the writer that Hildegard’s life has really only just begun for as a saint and Doctor of the Universal Church her life is immortalised in the annals of the Church. The many gifts of Hildegard – including her charisma – are expertly embedded in this “Poetic Journey” that gives voice to the “Living Voice”. A very enjoyable and fascinating read!

Dr Christine Cameron – 15 March 2019.

Christine is a seasonal lecturer with the Australian Catholic University. She has served as Principal and in administrative positions in Catholic primary schools in NSW Australia. Christine’s books are based on her successful PhD research into Women Doctors of the Catholic Church: A Study in servant Leadership.

Her first book Leadership as a Call to Service (2012)  explores the then three female Doctors.  Her second book, on the The Life and Works of Hildegard of Bingen  (2013) shows her a regarded scholar of Hildegard and 12th century  mystical writings, as she 

“seamlessly weaves the golden thread of SERVANT LEADERSHIP through the life and works of St. Hildegard

 

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