Sunday, August 14, 2011

"Behold Your Mother!"

Illumination from the Liber Scivias showing Hildegard receiving a vision
and dictating to her scribe and secretary

Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) in a letter to a priest:

When, in the year 1170 after the incarnation of the Divine, I lay in my sickbed for a long time, I saw, while I was awake in both body and spirit, the form of a very beautiful lady. She was a woman of exquisite charm, so attractive in her loveliness and possessed of such beauty that the human spirit was unable to comprehend it. Her form towered above the Earth all the way up to the heavens. Her face sparkled with the most incredible brightness. Her eyes looked up to heaven. She was clothed in a brightly radiant robe of white silk and in a cloak decorated with costly jewels: emeralds, sapphires, and pearls both large and small. On her feet she wore shoes made of onyx. But her face was smudged with dust and her dress was torn on the right side. Her cloak, too, had lost its exquisite beauty and the tops of her shoes were soiled. She cried to high heaven with a loud, plaintive voice and said: "Hear me, O heaven, for my countenance is sullied. Mourn, O Earth, for my robe is torn. Tremble, O abyss, for my shoes are soiled. The foxes have their holes and the birds of the sky have their nests, but I have no helper, no consoler, not even a staff to lean on that might give me some support."

And she went on to say: "I was hidden in the heart of the Divine until the Son of Man, conceived and born in virginity, poured out his blood. It was this blood that was his dowry when he married me, so that I might bring forth anew, in the pure and simple rebirth in the Spirit and in water, those who were stunted and sullied by the venom of the serpent. Priests are supposed to be those who nourish me, who see to it that my face sparkles like the morning light, that my robe shines like lightning, that my cloak radiates like costly jewels, and that my shoes brightly gleam. But instead they cover my face with dust, tear my robe, and make my cloak dark, and my shoes black. Those who should be beautifying me in every way have been faithless and have totally abandoned me....The wounds of my Bridegroom remain fresh and open, so long as the wounds of the human race's sins are open...." And I heard a voice from heaven which said: "This image represents the Church...."

N.B. Francis of Assisi was born in 1186.

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