Matthew Fox—formerly a member of the Roman Catholic Dominican order and today an Episcopalian priest— the book will examine what we can learn from this outstanding woman from the Middle Ages.
In an era when women were marginalized, Hildegard was an outspoken, controversial figure. Yet so visionary was her insight that she was sought out by kings, popes, abbots, and bishops for advice. A sixteenth century follower of Martin Luther called her “the first Protestant” because of her appeals to reform the church.
For many centuries after her death Hildegard was ignored or even ridiculed and is only today being recognized for her immense contribution to our understanding of our spiritual relationship to the earth—a contribution that touches on key issues faced by our planet in the 21st century, particularly with regard to the environment and ecology.
As a writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, healer, artist, and student of science, Hildegard was a pioneer in many fields in her day. Although she is commonly referred to as Saint Hildegard, she has never been officially canonized.
Hildegard's canonization will include the conferring on her in October of the highest honor the Catholic Church can bestow, as she is made a Doctor of the Church—only the fourth woman in history to be honored in this way, joining Catherine of Siena, St Teresa of Avila, and St Therese of Lisieux. This is good news for the 1.2 billion Roman Catholics world-wide and for the almost 80 million Catholics in the United States.
Matthew Fox, a founder of the movement known as Creation Spirituality, has previously authored numerous books on how spirituality needs to grow out of our rootedness in nature, as well as on a deep ecumenism that embraces spiritual traditions from around the world such as Buddhism, Judaism, Sufism, and Native American teachings.
A controversial figure himself, Fox is the ideal person to write on Hildegard, having already authored two books about her and having taught her work for over thirty years. He has been credited with first bringing her work to the attention of the world today and figured prominently in a four-hour DVD produced by the BBC that includes her opera and her paintings or “illuminations,” with Fox commenting on them.
Like Hildegard, Fox has also found himself in conflict with Catholic authorities who silenced him for a year before expelling him from his Order. His first book, Original Blessing, directly contravened the Catholic teaching of Original Sin. Paradoxically, Benedict XVI has said of Hildegard, "She also explored the vital relationship between God and creation…"
Comments Matthew Fox, "The Dalai Lama has stated that the world will be saved by women. I am tempted to say, 'Not if the Pope has his way.' Yet even though the Church has suppressed the feminine for centuries, the very institution that has most disregarded woman finds itself promoting a resurgence of Hildegard at this time. It's as if her truth were bursting out despite all attempts to silence her these long 900 years. In this era of global crisis, Hildegard represents and calls forth the healing power of the divine feminine in all of us."
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