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St. Bernard’s encouraging letter to St. Hildegard

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Philip Kosloski - published on 09/17/22

St. Hildegard was distraught at the visions she was having and sought the encouragement of St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

St. Hildegard was a popular mystic and prophet in 12th-century Germany, but she initially doubted God’s activity in her life.

She was worried that what she was receiving was not of God. and had much anxiety that she wasn’t following God’s will.

Instead of relying on her own judgment, St. Hildegard sought the advice and counsel of St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

She wrote in her letter, “I beseech you in the name of the Living God to give heed to my queries. Father, I am greatly disturbed by a vision which has appeared to me through divine revelation, a vision seen not with my fleshly eyes but only in my spirit.”

St. Hildegard received many visions in her lifetime, even a vision of St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

More than two years ago, indeed, I saw you in a vision, like a man looking straight into the sun, bold and unafraid. And I wept, because I myself am so timid and fearful. Good and gentle father, I have been placed in your care so that you might reveal to me through our correspondence whether I should speak these things openly or keep my silence, because I have great anxiety about this vision with respect to how much I should speak about what I have seen and heard.

St. Bernard responded to her requests and sent a short letter back affirming the divine inspiration of her visions.

I have at least conceded to respond to the letters of your charity, though the multitude of things to be done compels me to do it more briefly than I might wish. We rejoice in the grace of God which is in you. 

St. Bernard’s letters encouraged St. Hildegard, and she would go on to be highly influential in the Church throughout Europe, advising emperors and even the pope himself.

Sometimes all it takes is a little encouragement from someone we trust and admire.

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