Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was a Renaissance woman only she was born just about 300 years before the Early Renaissance.
At about fourteen, she became a nun of the Order of St. Benedict and remained so for her entire eighty-one years. Hildegard was a visionary, theologian, writer, composer, artist, healer, reformer, medical practitioner, prophet, and poet. Her theological ideas became part of the Catholic Church, and even helped to shape modern theology. She was canonized (official declaration of Sainthood) and named a Doctor of the Church (only one of thirty-six, ever designated) by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012. She may have lived and worked only within the confines of the Catholic Church, but her contributions were world-influencing and her writing, prolific. Entering her stride at forty-two, Hildegard wrote about holistic healing, developed new forms of music and opera, and inspired modern philosophy and psychology. 700 years later, her writing influenced Carl Jung’s work on the subconscious in psychology. She also wrote extensively about nature, science, and cosmology, and about diet and nutrition. One of my favorite ideas Hildegard wrote about was her concept of the divine feminine as a positive creative force in the universe–something we are beginning to acknowledge in our world today, eight hundred years later.