Hildegard of Bingen: Interdisciplinarian of Medieval Europe
By Jon Yoder
Georgia College and State University, Liberal Studies Program (2008)
Introduction: Interdisciplinarity is not solely defined by one’s familiarization with more than one discipline of academic study. It can better be defined as a lifelong process involving the integration of many dimensions present in one’s life in order to form a more progressive, inquisitive mind which is illustrated through the way in which that life is lived. Throughout history, important and powerful men and women have demonstrated a life such as this; among them are Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Theresa, and Mahatma Gandhi. One other person who has most assuredly reserved a place on this list is a woman named Hildegard of Bingen.
Born in 1098, Hildegard was the tenth child to Hildebert von Bermersheim and his wife Mechtild. They were a very well‐to‐do family of the free nobility from the Bermersheim region of Germany. When she was eight years old, Hildegard’s parents dedicated her to the church as a tithe. Hildegard was placed in a Benedictine monastery in an enclosed room with an anchoress and tutor named Jutta von Sponheim. As an anchoress, Jutta (and presumably Hildegard), had been placed in the room also called a cell or a tomb, with a ceremony including funeral honors. This was a lifelong dedication of seclusion from the world, the ceremony being symbolic of one dying to the world, or rather the world dying to one’s self so that that person might live a life of purity removed from all sin of the world.