Tag Archives: Hildegard von Bingen

Celebrating Women Series: JoAnn Shade on 12th C. Hildegard von Bingen

Welcome to the fourth article in the “Celebrating Women” for Women’s History Month! It’s my first author guest article series to celebrate women in history or women making history! Thank you to JoAnn Shade for offering the fourth article in this series. If you’d like to continue on with the tour, which runs March 19-31, 2014, follow along each day on the main blog or head to this blog page, Women in History, which will be updated daily with the scheduled link.

Hildegard von Bingen: “Feather on the Breath of God”
–12th Century Visionary, Abbess, Musician, Writer, Saint
by author JoAnn Shade

In the novel Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë could have been describing the life of Hildegard of Bingen when she wrote: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” Born in 1098, this visionary Benedictine nun was a theologian, prophet, poet, musician, healer, and influential abbess, and stands out as the most prolific female writer of her age, a Renaissance woman long before the Renaissance took place. Stubborn and resourceful, imaginative and devout, Hildegard holds a unique place in history, for as Charlotte Allen suggests, “this nun was one tough sister.”

From a contemporary point of view, life could not have appeared to be promising for the young girl, as her father and mother separated her from their other offspring; abandoning her to hope in God’s mercy alone. Born as a tenth child to Hildebert and Mechthilde, Hildegard of Bingen apparently was “tithed” to the Church, given over to the care of Jutta at age eight, either as an anchorite (permanently enclosed in a small cell attached to a church) or at Jutta’s family estate in Sponheim. By age fifteen, Hildegard made her own profession of vows, becoming a Benedictine nun, and it appears as though the fame of Jutta and Hildegard began to attract other women to the community of nuns, so that over time, their anchorite cell became a Benedictine nunnery.

What must it have been like as an eight-year-old being given to the church as a tithe, or to be confined in such a way for so many years? She seemed to have accepted her life as providential, and while as a young girl she could not have known the cultural factors at play, it would appear as though Hildegard reached such a sense of her full potential because she was enclosed.

Hildegard’s story was shaped by the visions she began to have as early as age three. Unsure what to do with these sensations, she asked her nurse if she had seen anything, as Hildegard was fearful of revealing her visions to anyone. It would appear that her unwillingness to act on her visions brought her ill health, although it is possible that the ill health brought the visions, with their visual impact being derived from migraines.

Ildegarda_Von_BingenHildegard of Bingen

Subsequently, Hildegard wrote (or had transcribed) three major works of a visionary nature, as well as two medical and scientific works, The Physica (Natural History) and Causae et curae (Causes and Cures). This writing included chapters on plants, the elements, trees, jewels and precious stones, fish, birds, animals, reptiles, and metals, as well as general medical questions such as the signs of life and death, uroscopy, and herbal remedies for a variety of ills. She also addresses the differences between the sexes and adds some discussion of sexuality and conception. In his classic work from the 1950’s, From Magic to Science, Charles Singer suggests that Hildegard really does not have specific categories of her work, such as science, ethics, theology, etc., but rather that “her ideas not only are interdependent, but also closely interwoven . . . for in her mind the material and spiritual are really interfused.”

We glimpse much of the person and the perceived power of Hildegard in her letter-writing. The breadth of her correspondents is amazing, for in terms of today’s culture, she would have written to (and received replies from) the US president, the Pope, Billy Graham, the parish priest, and the woman down the street. And yes, she would have been active on Facebook!

Listen to what she dared write to Pope Anastasius:

You, O man, who are too tired, in the eye of your knowledge, to rein in the pomposity of arrogance among those placed in your bosom, why do you not call back the shipwrecked who cannot rise from the depth without help? And why do you not cut off the root of evil which is choking out the good and beneficial plants of sweet taste and delightful aroma? You are neglecting the King’s daughter who was entrusted to you, that is, heavenly Justice herself.

Here’s her challenge to Conrad, King of the Romans “Again, O king, He Who knows all says to you: having heard these things, O man, restrain your pleasures, and correct yourself, so that you may come purified to those times when you need no longer blush for your deeds.” And one more quote, written to a Certain Person: “Get a grip on yourself until you see better times, and you will live.”

Among her many teachings, Hildegard believed that laughing, crying, singing and dancing were intimately linked with the health of the body. In that light, Hildegard was also an accomplished composer, writing many religious lyrics and composing the music for at least some of those works, which are considered both monastic and liturgical. Not surprising to the student of Hildegard, she was a maverick in her music writing, and she “preferred the archaic nonmetrical sequences,” and often wrote in what we would now call free verse.

Completing her biographical information, in 1136, Hildegard took over the leadership of the nuns following the death of Jutta. After receiving a command from God, she moved her nuns to Rupertsberg in 1150, removing them from the protection and authority of the monks at Disibodenberg (a move the monks fought against). In the years to follow, she began to gain prominence outside of the convent, and took part in a number of preaching tours. After a long and active life, Hildegard died in September 1179.

Hildegard stands out in history as a prophet and reformer within the church, and. her correspondence made at least some impact on the decisions of world leaders and church fathers. Her work as an artist, poet and composer was brought to new light in the late twentieth century, as her music was recorded and her literary works published again. Her medical writings have led her to being called one of the first woman doctors and scientists, yet she would have seen this work to be a part of her total life as a nun and as a woman of God. Long before the term was coined, Hildegard wrote and spoke extensively about social justice, desiring to seek freedom for the downtrodden, and believing that every human being, made in the image of God, should have the opportunity to cultivate the talents that God has given him or her.

Self-described as a “feather on the breath of God,” Hildegard’s cultivation of her own gifts enabled her feather-flight to be powerful and long-lasting. Yet as Hildegard’s words would remind us, “Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground, and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself but because the air bore it along.”

For an engaging treatment of her life story, see Mary Sharratt’s Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen.

 JoAnn Streeter Shade, Biography~

856c1c3bJoAnnShadeJoAnn Streeter Shade has walked alongside many women in a variety of ministry settings for more than thirty-five years. She has served in Salvation Army congregations and social service programs, has ministered at North Coast Family Foundation, a Christian counseling center in Northeast Ohio, and has also written extensively about the issues facing women in today’s culture. She writes a weekly column in the Ashland Times-Gazette, and is the author of more than a dozen books on topics such as spiritual growth (The Heartwork of Hope, The God Gallery), sexual abuse (Rapha’s Touch), marriage (The Guerilla and the Green Beret), biblical narrative (The Other Woman, WomenVoices), and the joy of living in Ashland (Only in Ashland: Reflections of a Smitten Immigrant).

She is married to Larry, is the mother of three adult sons, Greg, Drew and Dan, and Lauren, a beloved daughter-in-law, and is Nana to the lovely Madelyn Simone. With an M.A. in pastoral counseling and a D.Min. in the Women in Prophetic Leadership track from Ashland Theological Seminary, she combines her academic training with a writer’s eye, a pastor’s heart and a grandmother’s joy.

Keep up with JoAnn’s writing at www.gracednotesministries.blogspot.com.

JoAnn has written many inspirational books; however, we choose to highlight the one below:

The Other Woman:  Exploring the Story of Hagar, Synopsis~

the other woman 3The reader is taken on a memorable and meaningful journey, drawing helpful lessons from Hagar’s story.

The author touches on a vast range of subjects, from abuse and pregnancy and revenge to single parenting, abandonment, grief and more.

Any seeking soul, any student of the Bible, anyone who is craving hope and encouragement, will profit from it.

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Mary Sharratt Speaks About Hildegard von Bingen, One of the Most Famous Women of the Middle Ages

Today, I have the beautiful author Mary Sharratt on the site to talk about her book, Illuminations, and the life of Hidegard.  We’ll also chat about women in history, what else she has written, and her future writing plans. You can read my review of her wonderful book HERE. See the interview following the cover below, enjoy!

Illuminations

 

Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book, Mary!! It is our joy to have you here!  How has the season been treating you?

Mary: I just celebrated my birthday and am settling down to a dark northern winter up here in Lancashire, England. I hope to use the season to cocoon with my new novel-in-progress, The Dark Lady’s Masque, and get a lot of work done.

Erin: Happy belated birthday, Mary! It’s a little cold, blustery, and dark in Ohio as well. And though I’d like to suggest we take a beautiful walk in the park, I think it is too cold either of our locations…so maybe we’ll stay indoors with some hot tea and find a place by the fire. Then, we’ll get started!

Q:  Why did you decide to write your novel, Illuminations, about Hildegard Von Bingen?

A: For twelve years I lived in Germany where Hildegard has long been enshrined as a cultural icon, admired by both secular and spiritual people. In her homeland, Hildegard’s cult as a “popular” saint long predates her official canonization.

I was particularly struck by the pathos of her story. The youngest of ten children, Hildegard was offered to the Church at the age of eight. She reported having luminous visions since earliest childhood, so perhaps her parents didn’t know what else to do with her.

According to Guibert of Gembloux’s Vita Sanctae Hildegardis, she was bricked into an anchorage with her mentor, the fourteen-year-old Jutta von Sponheim, and possibly one other young girl. Guibert describes the anchorage in the bleakest terms, using words like “mausoleum” and “prison,” and writes how these girls died to the world to be buried with Christ. As an adult, Hildegard strongly condemned the practice of offering child oblates to monastic life, but as a child she had absolutely no say in the matter. The anchorage was situated in Disibodenberg, a community of monks. What must it have been like to be among a tiny minority of young girls surrounded by adult men?

Erin comments: I can’t even imagine what that kind of life must have been like!

Disibodenberg Monastery is now in ruins and it’s impossible to say precisely where the anchorage was, but the suggested location is two suffocatingly narrow rooms built on to the back of the church.

Hildegard spent thirty years interred in her prison, her release only coming with Jutta’s death. What amazed me was how she was able to liberate herself and her sisters from such appalling conditions. At the age of forty-two, she underwent a dramatic transformation, from a life of silence and submission to answering the divine call to speak and write about her visions she had kept secret all those years.

In the 12th century, it was a radical thing for a nun to set quill to paper and write about weighty theological matters. Her abbot panicked and had her examined for heresy. Yet miraculously this “poor weak figure of a woman,” as Hildegard called herself, triumphed against all odds to become one of the greatest voices of her age.   

Erin comments: An amazing story and a woman with more strength than she knew!

Q:  How did you feel the book would be received when you wrote it? I know it has been received by readers with an array of emotions. How did you decide which avenue to take when writing about her life?

A: To be honest it felt intimidating to be writing about such a religious woman and one I was in complete awe of. During my writing process I discovered the only way I could write about Hildegard was to let her breathe and reveal herself as human. I actually wrote two first drafts, one in third person and one in first person. My editor felt the first person narrative was much more immediate and that it drew her in right away.

The response to the book has been very warm indeed. I think it touched a chord in many women readers particularly, from all spiritual backgrounds, from secular humanists to Benedictine nuns to women pastors to Jewish and Buddhist readers! My book tour events were absolutely packed. There are so many Hildegard fans out there.

Erin comments: She’s a great role model for women, a source of great courage!

Q:  Why do you feel Hildegard was and is so important to the history not only of religion, but also to women? What kind of attributes can women model based on her that will bring about change to the world?

A: I think that Hildegard’s legacy remains hugely important for contemporary women. While writing this book, I kept coming up against the injustice of how women, who are often more devout than men, are condemned to stand at the margins of established religion, even in the 21st century. Women bishops are still the subject of controversy in the worldwide Anglican Communion while Pope John Paul II called a moratorium even on the discussion of women priests in the Catholic Church.

Modern women have the choice to wash their hands of organized religion altogether. But Hildegard didn’t even get to choose whether to enter monastic life—she was thrust into an anchorage at the age of eight. The Church of her day could not have been more patriarchal and repressive to women. Yet her visions moved her to create a faith that was immanent and life-affirming, that can inspire us today.

The cornerstone of Hildegard’s spirituality was Viriditas, or greening power, her revelation of the animating life force manifest in the natural world that infuses all creation with moisture and vitality. To her, the divine was manifest in every leaf and blade of grass. Just as a ray of sunlight is the sun, Hildegard believed that a flower or a stone was God, though not the whole of God. Creation revealed the face of the invisible creator. Hildegard’s re-visioning of religion celebrated women and nature and even perceived God as feminine, as Mother. Her vision of the universe was an egg inside the womb of God.

Hildegard shows how visionary women might transform the most male-dominated faith traditions from within.

Erin comments: That brings tears to my eyes. When I think about my own daughters, ages 10 and 6, being thrust into that situation at their age, I can’t fathom.  What she endured without not only ever giving up hope, but to come from it shining and making history with so many beautiful and intellectual contributions…..ah, I am speechless.

Q:  What was the most surprising part of her life that you came across in your research?

A: The sheer amount that she was able to accomplish as a 12th century woman with such inauspicious beginnings. Her public “career” only started at the age of forty-two when she first started to write about her visions, and yet she managed to write nine books on subjects ranging from theology to botany to cosmology to human sexuality. She wrote an entire corpus of sacred music, including the world’s first liturgical drama and proto-opera. She went on four preaching tours in an age when women were forbidden to preach. She was a mighty reformer, castigating her male superiors in the Church for their corruption. She founded two monastic communities for women in an age when most monasteries were founded only by princes and bishops. She developed her own system of holistic medicine still practiced in modern day Germany.

Q:  How do you feel that men in the Catholic church still regard women such as Hildegard?

A: Shortly before her death, Hildegard and her nuns were the subject of an interdict, or collective excommunication, due to their disobedience to the Archbishop of Mainz—they refused to disinter a supposed apostate buried in their graveyard. For Hildegard it would have been an unforgivable sin to desecrate this man’s Christian burial no matter what her archbishop said. For this act of insubordination, Hildegard nearly died an outcast and excommunicant. This put her in a hauntingly similar position to her modern day sisters, the nuns and sisters in the Leadership Council of Women Religious who are facing a Vatican crackdown and stand accused of doctrinal errors and radical feminism. Pope Benedict took a very harsh stand indeed against these women. I hope they fare better under Pope Francis, but the outcome of this debacle remains yet to be seen.

Having said that, there are very strong and brilliant women in the Church who are adored by the laity even if they are not always supported by the male hierarchy. I view women like the controversial author and theologian, Sister Margaret Farley, professor emeritus at YaleDivinitySchool, to be a modern Hildegard.  

Q:  Was Hildegard a feminist and believe in the notion of the divine feminine, or do we deduce that based on research? Can you talk about that a little?

A: Traditionalists will argue that Hildegard was conservative in many respects and will claim that she has been unfairly appropriated by feminists and by New Age spirituality. She never called for women priests, for example. But Hildegard lived in a golden age of monasticism, when an influential abbess could wield considerably more power than the average parish priest.

 But even the most conservative commentator can’t erase the Feminine Divine from Hildegard’s visionary theology. As Dr. Barbara Newman writes in Sister of Wisdom: St. Hildegard’s Theology of the Feminine, Hildegard’s Sapientia, or Divine Wisdom, is drawn directly from the scriptures—from the Book of Wisdom in the Old Testament in the Catholic Bible. Thus, Hildegard’s theology proves that there is nothing “new agey” about the Feminine Divine within Christianity. 

Masculine imagery of the creator tends to focus on God’s transcendence, but Hildegard’s revelations of the Feminine Divine celebrated immanence, of God being present in all things, in every aspect of this greening, burgeoning, blessed world. Hildegard’s Sapienta creates the world by both encompassing it and dwelling inside it.

O power of wisdom!

You encompassed the cosmos,

Encircling and embracing all in one living orbit

With your three wings:

One soars on high,

One distills the earth’s essence,

And the third hovers everywhere.

Hildegard von Bingen, O virtus sapientia

Q: Why do you feel some people take offense to women (or men) being feminists? What is your take on women’s issues, advocacy, rights, etc.? Who are some women role models from the modern ages?

A: I find it very sad that even in the 21st century some people still object to the fact that women are actually humans and deserve the same human rights as men. I dearly hope humankind can evolve into true equality. Any strong woman, whether a political figure like Hilary Clinton or an intellectual like Hannah Arendt or a great writer and truth teller like Toni Morrison creates a path that other women can follow. Spiritual women like Sister Joan Chittister or Buddhist nun and teacher Pema Chodron create sacred space and a lineage for their sisters to follow. 

Q:  What else have you written about that readers might enjoy?

A: Daughters of the Witching Hill is based on the true and heartbreaking story of the 1612 Pendle Witches, cunning women and healers caught up in a witch hunt. This took place where I live in Lancashire, Northern England. I board my horse on land once owned by the magistrate who persecuted these people.

Q:  What other women from history have you thought about detailing in a book?

A: I’m working on a new novel, The Dark Lady’s Masque, which explores the life of Aemilia Bassano Lanier (1569–1645) who was reportedly the Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s sonnets. The highly cultured daughter of an Italian court musician, she was also an accomplished poet and the first English woman to publish a collection of poetry under her own name.

Q:  You have such an eloquent writing voice, how do you perfect your books? How long does it take to write them?  Do you use an outline or write freely?

A: Thank you for your kind words! It takes me ages and ages to finish a book. Illuminations took about four years. I work with a rough outline, then write, write, and rewrite! The first draft was twice as long as the published version. 

Q:  What other activities outside of writing do you enjoy?  If you say reading, what books do you enjoy?

A: I spend lots of time with Miss Boo, my opinionated Welsh mare. Riding is a huge passion but also just hanging out with horses. I’m currently reading Nancy Bilyeau’s book The Crown, about a Dominican novice drawn into a conspiracy in Tudor England.

Erin comments: Horses are lovely! And Nancy’s The Crown and The Chalice are superb reads!

Q:  Where can readers and writers connect with you best?

A: Via my website, www.marysharratt.com and my Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/mary.sharratt.1

Q:  Where can Illuminations be found for purchase?

A: At any good bookstore or online via Amazon and other online retailers. Illuminations is available in trade paperback, ebook, hardcover, and audiobook.

Erin:  Thank you so very much, Mary, for stopping by for an interview with me. It was an honor and I hope to read many more books by you in the future! Have a great Holiday season!

Mary: Thank you so much Erin! I really enjoyed talking to you about my favorite 12th century powerfrau!

ILLUMINATIONS, Synopsis~

IlluminationsPublication Date: October 15, 2013
Mariner Books
Paperback; 288p
ISBN-10: 0544106539

Skillfully weaving historical fact with psychological insight and vivid imagination, Illuminations brings to life one of the most extraordinary women of the Middle Ages: Hildegard von Bingen, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath.

Offered to the Church at the age of eight, Hildegard was expected to live in silent submission as the handmaiden of a renowned, disturbed young nun, Jutta von Sponheim. But Hildegard rejected Jutta’s masochistic piety, rejoicing in her own secret visions of the divine. When Jutta died, Hildegard broke out of her prison, answering the heavenly call to speak and write about her visions and to liberate her sisters. Riveting and utterly unforgettable, Illuminations is a deeply moving portrayal of a woman willing to risk everything for what she believed.

Praise for Illuminations

“An enchanting beginning to the story of the perennially fascinating 12th-century mystic, Hildegard of Bingen. It is easy to paint a picture of a saint from the outside but much more difficult to show them from the inside. Mary Sharratt has undertaken this with sensitivity and grace.”
—Margaret George, author of Mary, Called Magdalene

“I loved Mary Sharratt’s The Daughters of Witching Hill, but she has outdone herself with Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard Von Bingen. She brings one of the most famous and enigmatic women of the Middle Ages to vibrant life in this tour de force, which will captivate the reader from the very first page.”
—Sharon Kay Penman, author of the New York Times bestseller Time and Chance

“I love Mary Sharratt. The grace of her writing and the grace of her subject combine seamlessly in this wonderful novel about the amazing, too-little-known saint, Hildegard of Bingen, a mystic and visionary. Sharratt captures both the pain and the beauty such gifts bring, as well as bringing to life a time of vast sins and vast redemptions.”
—Karleen Koen, author of Before Versailles and the best-selling Through a Glass Darkly

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0544106539/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/illuminations-mary-sharratt/1110919627?ean=9780544106536
Books A Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Illuminations/Mary-Sharratt/9780544106536?id=5724163155978
Indiebound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780544106536

Author Mary Sharratt, Biography~

???????????????????????????????The author of four critically acclaimed historical novels, Mary Sharratt is an American who lives in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, the setting for her acclaimed Daughters of the Witching Hill, which recasts the Pendle Witches of 1612 in their historical context as cunning folk and healers.

She also lived for twelve years in Germany, which, along with her interest in sacred music and herbal medicine, inspired her to write Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen.

Illuminations won the Nautilus Gold Award for Better Books for a Better World and was selected as a Kirkus Book of the Year.

For more information please visit Mary’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Link to Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rz6DAIX6Szk

Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/illuminationsvirtualtour

Illuminations Tour Banner FINAL

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Illuminations by Mary Sharratt Shines a Light on the 12th Century Hildegard Von Bingen

IlluminationsIlluminations – A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen, by Mary Sharratt, is a not a light and airy read, but a deep and intelligent historical fiction book. No matter if you practice any religion, are a strict Catholic, or otherwise, this book will draw you in and absorb you into a story of one of the most famous women of the 12th Century, Hildegard von Bingen.  She was a visionary, theologian, spiritualist, and of high intellect and regard. But it wasn’t always so, in fact, it took over 870 years after her death for the Vatican to canonize and her the title of Doctor of the Church.

I have to admit, readers, that I am not Catholic, and know little about the life of those who served the Church during these dark eras of history. However, their stories, especially those of the women, intrigue me. I can’t imagine being a highly sensitive, intellectual, and creative child and be given to the Church to be walled into a little room and be submissive (to Church, God, or Mentor)  for 30 years.  And especially when most of the Church was surrounded with men who didn’t “see” a woman’s worth other than servant and the fact that her mentor, Jutta, with whom she was walled in as a companion, was so very mean.

I enjoyed Sharratt’s narrative, her use of first person is finely done and engaging. Her details are lush, her phrases like honey, and her eloquent writing make me feel as if I am reading a beautiful piece of art. At that point, I began to not even care if the details of historical fact were correct (I wouldn’t know so won’t speculate and I imagine she researched enough to choose a proper version to stem her novel from) but to enjoy this novel for its beautiful prose.

For example, “Autumn drew in, heaping leaves of garnet and gold in our courtyard as my plants shriveled to stalks.  Cupping each brilliant leaf in my palm, I traced every vein and curve.  This was my devotion, my contemplation, during those short days when twilight stole in early and October fog muffled the church bells.” (page 67)

Isn’t that something lovely to read?

Her book is aptly titled as Illuminations, as Von Bingen saw halos of light and had since childhood (which caused her mother to think her mad and led her to be given to the Church), but also I believe because as a person she illuminates from the dark into sharing her light with the world. It was not until she is out of confinement that she begins to put her mystic presences to paper, taking them as divine. A woman writing in the 12th century is not normal, so Von Bingen’s use of quill and paper, her music, and her quest for compassion and justice is trailblazing. Her mark has been left on many people and groupings over hundreds of years. I believe, she was even thought of as a model for Reformers due to her work against political and ecclesiastical corruption.

The novel shows Von Bingen’s complete amount of strength of faith and self, as well as courage.  Being held practically captive and shut off from the outside world for such a length of time usually “breaks people,” but it only seemed to make her more determined in sharing her visions and her intelligence on many subjects.

I really enjoyed reading Sharratt’s Illuminations for its compelling prose, its lovely verbiage, her superb use of narrative and first-person POV, and her development of Von Bingen from history to the page. I was enthralled, curious, and ignited. I highly recommend this as a thought-provoking read, yet one that will absorb you so completely you’ll never use your bookmark.

Giveaway~

Leave a comment and your email below to enter to win a copy of Illuminations! You must leave your email here or you can email it to me at hookofabook(at)hotmail.com. You may also follow the Hook of a Book Facebook page for +3 additional entries at www.facebook.com/HookofaBook.

ILLUMINATIONS, Synopsis~

IlluminationsPublication Date: October 15, 2013
Mariner Books
Paperback; 288p
ISBN-10: 0544106539

Skillfully weaving historical fact with psychological insight and vivid  imagination, Illuminations brings to life one of the most extraordinary  women of the Middle Ages: Hildegard von Bingen, Benedictine abbess,  visionary, and polymath.

Offered to the Church at the age of  eight, Hildegard was expected to live in silent submission as the  handmaiden of a renowned, disturbed young nun, Jutta von Sponheim. But  Hildegard rejected Jutta’s masochistic piety, rejoicing in her own  secret visions of the divine. When Jutta died, Hildegard broke out of  her prison, answering the heavenly call to speak and write about her  visions and to liberate her sisters. Riveting and utterly unforgettable, Illuminations is a deeply moving portrayal of a woman willing to risk  everything for what she believed.

Link to Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rz6DAIX6Szk

Praise for Illuminations

“An enchanting beginning to the story of the perennially fascinating  12th-century mystic, Hildegard of Bingen. It is easy to paint a picture  of a saint from the outside but much more difficult to show them from  the inside. Mary Sharratt has undertaken this with sensitivity and  grace.”
—Margaret George, author of Mary, Called Magdalene

“I  loved Mary Sharratt’s The Daughters of Witching Hill, but she has  outdone herself with Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard Von Bingen. She brings one of the most famous and enigmatic women of the Middle Ages to vibrant life in this tour de force, which will captivate the reader  from the very first page.”
—Sharon Kay Penman, author of the New York Times bestseller Time and Chance

“I love Mary Sharratt. The grace of her writing and the grace of her  subject combine seamlessly in this wonderful novel about the amazing,  too-little-known saint, Hildegard of Bingen, a mystic and visionary.  Sharratt captures both the pain and the beauty such gifts bring, as well as bringing to life a time of vast sins and vast redemptions.”
—Karleen Koen, author of Before Versailles and the best-selling Through a Glass Darkly

Buy Links~

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0544106539/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/illuminations-mary-sharratt/1110919627?ean=9780544106536
Books A Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Illuminations/Mary-Sharratt/9780544106536?id=5724163155978
Indiebound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780544106536

Author Mary Sharratt, Biography~

???????????????????????????????The author of four critically acclaimed historical novels, Mary Sharratt is an American who lives in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England, the  setting for her acclaimed Daughters of the Witching Hill, which recasts  the Pendle Witches of 1612 in their historical context as cunning folk  and healers. She also lived for twelve years in Germany, which, along  with her interest in sacred music and herbal medicine, inspired her to  write Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen. Illuminations won  the Nautilus Gold Award for Better Books for a Better World and was  selected as a Kirkus Book of the Year.

For more information please visit Mary’s website and blog.  You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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