A vision of living brightness

Daily Reading for September 17 • Hildegard of Bingen, 1179

As an old woman, Hildegard described very clearly the two different ways in which her visions presented themselves to her, in a letter to Guibert of Gembloux. (The letter caused Guibert to leave everything he was doing and become her secretary for the last few years of her life, following the death of Volmar.) In the letter, Hildegard observes that “The brightness I see is not spatial, yet it is far, far more lucent than a cloud that envelopes the sun. I cannot contemplate height or length or breadth in it; and I call it ‘the shadow of the living brightness.’ And as sun, moon and stars appear [mirrored] in water, so Scriptures, discourses, virtues, and some works of men take form for me and are reflected radiant in this brightness. . . . And in that same brightness I sometimes, not often, see another light, which I call ‘the living light’; when and how I see it, I cannot express; and for the time I do see it, all sadness and all anguish is taken from me, so that then I have the air of an innocent young girl and not of a little old woman.”

From The Journal of Hildegard of Bingen by Barbara Lachman (Bell Tower, 1993).

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