Title

An Exploration of Hildegard of Bingen?s Concept Viriditas and Its Implications Concerning Sexuality and the Twelfth Century Catholic Church

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2005

Abstract

In 1147, a German abbess, composer, and mystic received instructions from God to describe and interpret the visions which she had been experiencing since her childhood. This reception of divine visions became known as Scivias , the first publication of Hildegard of Bingen. Throughout her life, Hildegard went on to write two additional visionary works, as well as books on natural philosophy and herbal remedies, in addition to countless songs and prayers. Contained within her works, specifically Scivias , De Operatione Dei , Cause et Cure , and several prayers, one finds the curious term viriditas of Hildegard?s unique creation, combining the Latin words for virtue, strength, and life. This key term in Hildegard?s writings, which is usually translated as greening, is applied in her documents to God?s power of creation, Mary?s fruitfulness, as well as the virility of lustful women of the Phlegmatic temperament. This project investigates the concept of viriditas and its many associations in Hildegard?s texts as well as the societal, philosophical, theological, and personal factors which influenced her to use the term in such varied contexts. I will also discuss viriditas in conjunction with the emphasis on virginity in the Church and Hildegard?s documents, as she writes that the Trinity and the Eucharist are dependant upon the virginity and purity of Mary and Jesus. Through this, one can discover the effect that viriditas has upon the virginity of the divine and lascivious human beings, and what the varied uses imply about the Church?s and Hildegard?s views of human sexuality.

Advisor

Michael Near and Dale Wright

Department

religious_studies

Support

Ford Research Endowment

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