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3 Lessons from St. Hildegard of Bingen for the modern Christian woman


Zvonimir Atletic / Shutterstock

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 09/17/21

Women today can learn so much from the life of this extraordinary abbess and leader from the Middle Ages.

It almost seems like time travel the way St. Hildegard of Bingen has emerged from the 12th century to become an emblematic saint for today’s woman. This “Renaissance woman” of the Middle Ages held legendary status for centuries, but it was not until 2012 that she was officially canonized and named a Doctor of the Church. 

St. Hildegard was an international leader at a time when women rarely held positions of authority. She was widely respected for her intellect, knowledge, and spiritual gifts. As the abbess of a convent, she was a philosopher, theologian, composer, playwright, botanist, and traveling preacher. Truly a woman of many talents!

Since her recent canonization, the world is paying her renewed attention. On her feast day today, let’s reflect on some lessons modern women can learn from her extraordinary life.

1It’s not too late to make your mark

One amazing part of St. Hildegard’s story is that she was what we would call a “late bloomer.” Average life expectancy in her era was 33 years. Yet she did not begin to write her vast and varied works until she was 42 years old.

If you feel that it’s too late to make a change or accomplish a goal, ask St. Hildegard for her intercession and guidance. She is an amazing example of pursuing exciting interests and passions later in life. Some have even called her the “patron saint of late bloomers.” 

2You have what it takes

Perhaps part of the reason you’re hesitant is that you worry you don’t have what it takes to pursue your dreams. Isn’t that true for so many of us? Impostor syndrome is very real, and it’s a vicious mental trap:

Impostor syndrome is the fear of being exposed as a fraud, of feeling unworthy of your success, of not being as capable as others. Both genders experience impostor syndrome, but women are more susceptible to it and more intensely affected by it.

The truth is that most of us are making it up as we go along. None of us was born knowing how to handle every situation with aplomb.

It’s okay to be unsure at first, but go ahead and start down the path you want to pursue. You can learn as you go. We all do!

St. Hildegard gives us an incredible witness of what it looks like when a holy woman is confident in her abilities. She had many talents, and she fearlessly pursued them and made the most of what God gave her.

Hildegard shows us modern women that we really do have what it takes to dive into our interests and develop our gifts. 

3Use your gifts in service of others

Crucial to St. Hildegard’s story is the “why” behind her work. She didn’t pursue her interests merely for the sake of self-fulfillment or building up treasures on earth. Instead, she put her gifts at the service of her community and the Church.

Her example inspires us to use our own talents at the service of others. Whether you are a professional woman, a full-time caregiver, a student, or engaged in any other work a woman can do, you can use your God-given talents to be a force for good in the world. 

Lord knows our world needs the good you can do in it! Let St. Hildegard light your way, today and every day.

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