Next Doctor of the Church: Hildegard von Bingen?

Benedict to canonize “Sybil of the Rhine,” reports Tornielli

Respected Vatican reporter Andrea Tornielli writes at Vatican Insider that Pope Benedict XVI will canonize Hildegard von Bingen in October of next year, and at the same recognize her as a Doctor of the Church.

If Tornielli is correct, Hildegard – the 12th-century mystic, prioress, and composer who has been popularly revered as a saint for centuries, though never formally canonized – would become the Church’s fourth female doctor (alongside Saints Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, and Therese of Lisieux). Earlier this year, during his visit to Spain, Benedict announced his intention to declare St. John of Avila a doctor, the first since John Paul II so designated Therese in 1997.

Tornielli is short on details or sources in his report, but he notes Pope Benedict’s frequent mentions of the “Sybil of the Rhine,” including two Wednesday audience addresses he devoted to her and her work last year (the texts of which can be read here and here). Tornielli also reports, “The Congregation for the Causes of Saints, headed by Cardinal Angelo Amato, is terminating a study of the documents on Hildegard,” presumably as the last step before the announcement of her canonization.

Toward the end of Tornielli’s report – which includes some fascinating biographical information – is this odd little fact about Hildegard, previously unknown to me. Grounds for naming Hildegard the patron saint of Catholic nerds, perhaps?

The German nun is also the patron of scholars of Esperanto, because she is the author of one of the first artificial languages​​, the Unknown Language, a secret language used for mystical purposes composed of 23 letters.  She herself describes it in a code that also contains a glossary of 1011 words in “unknown language”.


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About Catherine Harmon 577 Articles
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.