Hildegard of Bingen: Greening ....by Sr. Angela

“I (God) am the breeze that nurtures all things green.

I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits.

I am the rain coming from the dew

that causes the grasses to laugh

with the joy of life.”

from Gabriele Uhlein, Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen (Santa Fe: 1982)


Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179), a Benedictine Abbess whose reputation as a visionary, healer, scientist, author, speaker, poet, artist, and musician, was well known in her lifetime. Fortunately for us, many of her books, songs and other works have been preserved. They include several themes, including light, the centrality of God within and through creation, and the creative energy of God which she called “viriditas” or “greening.”

Hildegard had a balanced, wholistic, imaginative and creative view of the universe. She challenged the translation of Genesis that directs humans to “subdue the earth." How could humans subdue creation when we are part of creation? Like many of our Native American tribes, Hildegard did not try to separate the Creator from creation. God is in us and in all of creation and all creation is in God.

Zentangle © by Monika Ellis, OSB

For Hildegard, viriditas is not just the fruitfulness of growing things in the spring and summer. The fruitfulness of God permeates all of creation all of the time. She was a true environmentalist. Because she did not separate body from soul as did St. Augustine and many other Christian writers, she saw the soul as ”the freshness of the flesh, for the body grows and thrives through it just as the earth becomes fruitful through moisture.” (Weldell C. Beane, W.C. Doty, eds., Myths, rites, symbols: A Mircea Eliade Reader, Vol II (New York, 1976), p. 416.)

According to Hildegard, the Divine Word calls all of us to a creativity that enhances the creativity of God and that “bears fruit that lasts” (John 15.16). Let us praise God’s creative hand in our environment and in all of creation just as Hildegard did. We can use her rich imagery as we pray through the beauty of our environment and all the cosmos, whether animate or inanimate, and in all seasons of the year.


  • Comment posted by Sr. Lucy M Wynkoop on November 10, 2023 at 11:43AM (7 months ago)

    S Angela, thank you for the inspiring article on Hildegard's viriditas.

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