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The Hildegard of Bingen Trail in Germany

The Hildegard of Bingen Trail in Germany
The Hildegard Trail in Bingen (Bob Sessions photo)

Hildegard Pilgrimage Path

“I love this sign, don’t you? I’ve traveled to a lot of holy places, but Bingen, Germany, is the only place where the pilgrimage route is marked by a nun sign. Hildegard is their most famous resident, and they want to make it easy for pilgrims to follow in her footsteps.

And more people are doing just that, for Hildegard of Bingen is enjoying a surprising career resurgence for someone who’s been dead for nine centuries (for more information on her biography, see The Life of Hildegard of Bingen). Her fan club is certainly diverse: feminists hail her as a foremother, environmentalists praise her views on nature, New Age enthusiasts recognize her as a kindred spirit, and musicians record her chants (the CD A Feather on the Breath of God was a surprise best-seller in 1988). And in 2012 Hildegard was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI, an honor given to only four women saints.”

The Hildegard von Bingen pilgrimage route leads on about 135 kilometers from Idar-Oberstein to Bingen am Rhein and Rüdesheim-Eibingen through the land of Hildegard.

Hildegardweg / Hildegard Pilgrim Path

Itinerary program for a 8-day pilgrimage path (see map)  ~ 8-Strecken-Programm oder 8-Tage-Pilgerwanderweg (von Sonntag bis Sonntag)

  • Erste Strecke             18,7km / 4:7 Std.                                  

Idar-Oberstein – Herrstein – Niederhosenbach – Bundenbach – Hahnenbach

  • Zweite Strecke 6,8km / 1.31 Std.                                 

Hahnenbach – Oberhausen – Kallenfels – Bergen – Kirn – Schloss Dhaun

  • Dritte Strecke 17,7km / 3:39 Std.                               

Schloss Dhaun – Simmertal – Bad Sobernheim – Staudernheim Disibodenberg – Odenheim/Glan

  • Vierte Strecke   12,2 km / 2:38 Std.                              

Disibodenberg – Duchroth – Oberhausen/Nahe – Burg Schlossböckelheim – Waldböckelheim – Burgsponheim – Sponheim

  • Fünfte Strecke 9,1 km / 2:06 Std.                                 

Sponheim – Spabrücken

  • Sechste Strecke             8,4 km / 1:48 Std.                                 

Spabrücken – „Drei-Madonnen-Weg“ –  Schöneberg – Madonnenweg – Stromberg

  • Siebte Strecke 9,8 km / 2 Std.                                       

Stromberg – Bingerbrück

  • Achte Strecke – ca. 5,4 km / 1:02Std.                           

Bingerbrück – Bingen – Eibingen

Good Reading

I stumbled across this blog about Spiritual Travel and pilgrimage…

Read more from Lori Erickson

Travel writer, Episcopal deacon, and author of the Holy Rover blog at Patheos, Erickson is an engaging guide for pilgrims eager to take a spiritual journey. Her book describes travels that changed her life and can change yours, too.

Living saints today? Have you met any?

Living saints today? Have you met any?

Where have all the saints gone?

St. Francis in the Garden

Living saints?  Have you met any?  Not a Hindu or Catholic Saint, placed on candle-lit altar or in rose garden.  But a living saint today.  Someone who projects a oneness with the world, is filled with loving compassion, who has a purpose of being in service to others?  A humble person who is truly awake?

I have been asking these questions, not as a religious person, but as a filmmaker who has made several films on past saints, the visionaries who woke us up like Naturalist John Muir and Mystic Saint Hildegard of Bingen; my own patron saint of creativity, has lead me to the idea who wouldn’t appreciate more saints?

What would they look like?  Where would you meet them?  At a volunteer or charity event?  A yoga studio?  A meditation retreat?  At the office?  I bet you haven’t met a lot, if any at all.  So where have all the saints gone?  We should have more.  We have a greater population now than when historical saints lived.  We are more educated.  We have the internet of all things amazing.  So, why don’t we have more saints?  Is organized religion turning them away?  Are we treating them with antipsychotics?  Are they self-medicating with recreational drugs?

Obviously I am not alone if you google “Where have all the saints gone?”  The question generally gets turned to who are the living saints today?  With wonderful answers from people that have meet Mother Teresa or other Sainted modern religious figures that were only officially canonized after their deaths.

Living Saints?

I like this comment I found:  “There are many living saints amongst us right now that we do not know of, simply because it wasn’t part of God’s will for them to be revealed to us. So it’s always good to love your neighbor, not only because we are called to do so, but also because you never know when you are talking to a saint!”

That is so true.

When I set out to make my films, I didn’t know at the time, that I would also be exploring that question in a more timely perspective as my subject material was historical figures that had personally inspired me and others into our live’s purposes.   “Early Christian communities venerated hundreds of saints, but historical research by 17th- and 18th-century Catholic scholars determined that very few of these saints’ stories were backed by solid historical evidence. Lives of such well-known figures as St. George, St. Valentine, and St. Christopher were based either on a legend that often predated Christianity or were entirely made up. Other saints had local followings. In rural France, St. Guinefort was venerated as the protector of infants after he saved his master’s baby from a snakebite. Saint Guinefort was a dog!” (Appeared in the November 2013 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 78, No. 11, page 46).


What was Saint Hildegard the Patron Saint of? Culinary arts? Creativity?

Culinary arts?  Creativity? Arts?  This question of what was Saint Hildegard the Patron Saint of came up recently when I was asked where I had first heard or came to know Saint Hildegard as The Patron Saint of Creativity?  In my documentary of The Unruly Mystic: Saint Hildegard, I invited many of the interviewees to respond if they thought of her as the patron saint of creativity, and that became the gold standard in the final film.   While I would find it hard to believe that I alone coined that phrase at the time I started making the film,  I do see that everything she did could fall under what I call the pursuit of creativity.

“Actually she is not an official patron saint of anything, which may be a good thing because to think of Hildegard merely as a “patron saint” is to gloss over her profound capabilities and influence” states The Loyola Press.  However the same author encourages that she should be the pantheon of other saints known for their culinary arts for  “St. Hildegard’s recipe for “Cookies of Joy” is still used today. She encouraged bakers to eat the cookies often: “They will reduce the bad humors, enrich the blood, and fortify the nerves,” she wrote.”  So is Saint Hildegard the Patron Saint of Culinary Arts too?

While asking the question slightly differently, for instance, who is the patron saint of the arts, we get another nun a few centuries later, St. Catherine of Bologna: who was a fifteenth-century cloistered nun who lived and died in relative obscurity doesn’t seem the most obvious choice to be Patron Saint of Artists. Yet a closer look at the life of St. Catherine of Bologna shows that she is indeed a saint worthy to intercede for and inspire artists. Her creative spirit, talents, visions, and struggle with doubts make her a saint even modern-day artists can relate to.

Scholars and religious have shown a renewed interest in the guide she wrote for novices, The Seven Spiritual Weapons. One of the “weapons” she describes in that treatise might inspire Catholic artists today: in exhorting her sisters to trust in God, she tells them, “to believe that alone we will never be able to do something truly good.”

Along with my example, I like how the intersection of faith and arts can lead to some surprising destinations.  St. Catherine of Bologna Arts Association of Ringwood, New Jersey holds an annual photo, art, and poetry exhibition called “A Little Bit of Soho in Ringwood.” The exhibition, held each year on the weekend nearest St. Catherine’s March 9th feast day, features hundreds of artists and draws thousands of visitors.  On the 600th anniversary of the birth of St. Catherine, the theme was “Celebrating the Light That We Are.”

Pope Benedict recently spoke eloquently of this humble saint:

“From the distance of so many centuries she is still very modern and speaks to our lives. She, like us, suffered temptations, she suffered the temptations of disbelief, of sensuality, of a difficult spiritual struggle. She felt forsaken by God, she found herself in the darkness of faith. Yet in all these situations she was always holding the Lord’s hand, she did not leave him, she did not abandon him. And walking hand in hand with the Lord, she walked on the right path and found the way of light.”

All of which takes us back to St. Hildegard as being the patron saint of creativity, so what not ask that saint for support in your own work?

Here is a prayer that I found that invokes her inspiration for one’s own creativity:

Dearest St. Hildegard, let thy gracious prayer be for this: that in all things, we serve God in bringing souls, including our own, to Him, and delightfully so. Let righteousness enfold hearts moving in and moved by the arts. Let thanks be our joyous cry, our victory shout, our honoring trumpet blast, with gratitude that our Creator gave us the sensibility to know and love Him; that He let us love as He loves, forgive as He forgives; and leads us to be as perfect in purity as He is. Actualize all our divinely-granted potential, St. Hildegard, for the chief end of uniting as the flock of our Good Shepherd, wisely using every gift He has given us. Thanks. AMEN

I would ask you to watch my movie yourself, and make your decision based upon what the following people have to say if you don’t trust me.

Who is the patron saint of creativity?