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Reflecting on the Fire of the Spirit: Hildegard of Bingen

A Meditation on the Spiritual Legacy of a Medieval Visionary

Rev. Anne Abdy

Reflecting on the Fire of the Spirit: Hildegard of Bingen

As the Principal Feast Day of Pentecost draws near, let us reflect on the profound insights of Hildegard of Bingen (1098 - 1179), a mystic, poet, composer, dramatist, doctor, and scientist whose impact transcended the conventions of her time. Born in 1098, Hildegard rose to prominence through her seminal work, Scivias, garnering the attention of monarchs and church leaders alike. Her unprecedented preaching missions across northern Europe marked a significant chapter in her life, reinforcing her role as a trailblazer among women of her era.

Hildegard's legacy as a prolific writer and composer continues to resonate today, bridging historical divides with her timeless wisdom. In honor of her lasting influence, I share with you her poem, Holy Spirit of Fire, a meditative piece that invites us to contemplate the dynamic and unifying force of the Holy Spirit.

O Holy Spirit of Fire,

life in the life of all life,

holy are you,

enlivening all things.

Holy are you,

a healing balm

to the broken.

Holy are you,


blistered wounds.

O Holy Breath,

O Fire of Life,

O Sweetness in my breast

infusing my heart

with the fine scent of truth.

O Pure Fountain

through which we know

God unites strangers

and gathers the lost.

O Heart's Shield, guarding life

and hope, joining the many members

into one body;

Belt of Truth,

wrap them in beauty.

Protect those ensnared

by the enemy,

and free the worthy

from their fetters.

O Great Way that runs through all,

from the heights,

across the earth,

and in the depths,

you encompass all and unify all.

From you the clouds stream

and the ether rises;

from your stones precious water pours,

springs well and birth waterways,

and the earth sweats green with life.

And eternally do you bring forth knowledge

by the breath of wisdom.

All praise to you,

you who are the song of praise

and the joy of life,

you who are hope and the greatest treasure,

bestowing the gift of Light.

Adapted from "Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints" (Church Publishing, 2010).

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