An image of the Holy Spirit-inspired Hildegard and her scribe from the Rupertsberg Codex des Liber Scivias, c. 1180.
Pope Benedict XIV has indicated he plans to canonize the 12th-century female composer, mystic, author, physician and abbess Hildegard von Bingen and then proclaim her a Doctor of the Church in October 2012.
Even more important than her long-delayed official canonization is the fact that Hildegard will be only the fourth woman among less than three dozen saints total to be bestowed with the title of Doctor of the Church. That designation honors men and women whose teachings and writings have been particularly significant and instructional to the church — including the likes of St. John Chrysostom, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. John of the Cross. (The three other women Doctors are St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Sienna and St. Therese of Lisieux.)
Of Hildegard, Benedict said last September:
...This great woman, this "prophetess" [who] also speaks with great timeliness to us today, with her courageous ability to discern the signs of the times, her love for creation, her medicine, her poetry, her music, which today has been reconstructed, her love for Christ and for his Church which was suffering in that period too, wounded also in that time by the sins of both priests and lay people, and far better loved as the Body of Christ.
Though he mentions her capabilities as a composer nearly parenthetically, it would be hard to imagine that Hildegard's amazing musical works have escaped the ears of this classical-music-loving, piano-playing pontiff.
In our own time, early music lovers have become well acquainted with the marvelous compositions of this Benedictine abbess through beautiful and moving performances such as these.