September 17 – Hildegard von Bingen Day

Posted on September 17, 2015

I've written about “polymaths” before – people who are both knowledgeable and accomplished in several different fields – but this polymath is pretty unique. For one thing, she's a woman! Also, she lived a really, REALLY long time ago!

Born in what is now Germany on this date in 1098, Hildegard of Bingen was a writer, a music composer, a philosopher, and an abbess (the head nun) in the Benedictine Church. And she is considered the founder of scientific natural history in Germany!

She preached sermons. She authored three large volumes on theology (the study of religion). She wrote the oldest surviving morality play and one of the largest bodies of letters that has survived from the Middle Ages. She wrote textbooks on botany and medicine.

A woman who publicly preached in the Middle Ages was unusual enough – but for Hildegard to be a respected theologian, writer, and medical expert was really unheard of!

If you want to sample some of Hildegard's music, check out this “video” (really, just a slightly illustrated audio!).

There are two children's books about Hildegard von Bingen. (Note: I am not sure if one or both books assume that Hildegard's religious beliefs were truths about the cosmos.)

Also on this date:

HummerBird Celebration in Texas (September 17-20, 2015)

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