Kingdoms and Beasts: The Early Prophecies of Hildegard of Bingen
Czarski, Charles M.
JOURNAL OF MILLENNIAL STUDIES, VOLUME I, ISSUE 2, Winter (1998)
The twelfth-century Benedictine author Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) has long been famous for her first major work known as the Scivias, a description of her visions and her commentaries on them which she wrote between 1141 and 1151. The purpose of this paper is to analyze a striking vision consisting of a group of animals which for Hildegard had prophetic meaning. Her commentary on this vision forms the core of her early prophetic thought. In contrast to other contemporary writers, who developed their eschatology in the form of Biblical exegesis, Hildegard was a visionary whose prophecies took the form of commentaries on the visions which she believed had been sent to her by the Holy Spirit. She maintained that from her infancy she had been instructed by the Holy Spirit in the form of visions and voices which were not transmitted to her through her physical senses and imagination. Instead, Hildegard claimed that a heavenly light illuminated her soul where she experienced the visions and instructions sent by the Holy Spirit. She also stated that in the course of these visionary experiences she was awake and conscious of the world around her. Hildegard believed that she had the God-given duty of revealing these divine revelations in her writings.