First Advisor

Linda Parshall

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in German






Femininity of God, Saint Hildegard (1098-1179) Correspondence



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, 72 p.)


Hildegard alleged a spiritual connection with the physical world in her claim that she, a woman, was chosen by God to incarnate His Word on earth as Christ had done in the flesh years before. Woman, the embodiment of the feminine, was connected to the physical world in the medieval era. It was with this idea in mind that Hildegard attached an important significance to nature and the Virgin, seeing each as the ultimate expressions of the feminine divine on earth. However, included in the incarnation, according to Hildegard, was the Church itself along with the clergy, both men and women. In earth, in mankind, in all of nature, she saw a dimension of God, a dimension that found its expression uniquely in the world yet paralleled the God beyond this world. Using Hildegard's letters in German translation, I will show how, in a patriarchal world of the 12th century, Hildegard emphasized the feminine as salvific as a means to establish a balance in the world, a balance that had been offset by the corrupt behavior of Church and State. I will preface this with a brief discussion of the era (p. 6). In Chapter II, I will focus first on how Hildegard saw the feminine manifested in the world and how, for various purposes, she expressed it in her letters. Secondly in Chapter II, by citing further examples in her letter, I will concentrate on how she saw a lack of feminine expression in the world and how she viewed the negative result of this lack. Finally in Chapter IV, I will show how she achieved the expression of this balance. In concluding my paper, I will consider whether she was successful in her efforts: Did she achieve, from others as well as from herself, the balance she sought or were her efforts in vain?


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