Fiona Maddocks, Author . Doubleday $21.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-385-49867-8

Of all the Western mystics being recovered today by spiritual seekers, Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) occupies first place. Over the last decade, almost all of her extant writings have been translated and published or reprinted. In addition, no fewer than six biographical studies of her life have been released. Maddocks, chief music critic of the Observer (London), adeptly shows why Hildegard continues to fascinate seekers, chronicling the saint's life from the time she entered the cloister at Disibodenberg, at the age of eight, to her eventual canonization. From her 40th year until her death, Hildegard experienced prophetic and apocalyptic visions, 26 of which comprise her most famous work, Scivias (to know the way of the Lord), written over a period of 10 years. Her uncompromising spiritual judgment (she challenged both religious and political leaders of her time), her unceasing desire to follow the spiritual paths God revealed to her and her deep devotion to the life of the cloister attracted numerous followers. Hildegard was a Renaissance woman in the Middle Ages; she composed hymns, poems, a morality play, two major theological works (in addition to Scivias), hundreds of letters and two scientific and medical treatises that are sometimes remarkably modern in their descriptions of the causes and prevention of illnesses. Maddocks weaves excerpts from all these writings into the biographical narrative so that, despite plodding and workmanlike prose, the saint of Bingen comes alive for the modern world. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/28/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
Hardcover - 343 pages - 978-0-7472-7398-1
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-571-30243-7
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-571-30259-8
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