Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Modern Languages and Literatures

First Advisor

Rotter, Marcel

Second Advisor

Lewis, Elizabeth

Major or Concentration



Hildegard of Bingen was born in the year 1098 and died in the year 1179. She was active as an abbess of the Benedictine order during the height of the 12th century. She was, as many future abbesses were, born into a noble family. However, her family was not as well off as what could have been expected of a noble family at the time. Therefore, being the tenth of ten children and the victim of frequent illness in the form of migraine headaches (later understood as the root of her many godly visions), Hildegard was sent to live in the convent at Disibodenberg at the age of eight. Here she was brought up by Jutta of Sponheim, an anchoress who was essentially buried alive within the convent walls. Jutta was mostly well educated, and taught Hildegard the Latin language to the extent where she could understand the Bible in a contextual fashion. When Jutta passed away in the year 1136 Hildegard became the abbess of Disibodenberg. It was around this time that Hildegard began receiving more frequent visions. The visions would come in the form of these migraine headaches that she had received since childhood; through the pain Hildegard "was able to see the light of God". In the year 1141 Hildegard claimed to hear the voice of God telling her to write down what she was seeing and hearing in her visions. The text that acts as a result of this exchange came to be known as the Scivias. In the Scivias, Hildegard notes her visionary experience with the voice of God in three parts. The literary contents of the Scivias are remarkable, no doubt. However, it is essential that this study looks at the influence of the heavy-handed patriarchal society of the time on the creation of this female mystic of the 12th century. Hildegard was initially restricted from writing down her experiences due to the laws that were set forth by her contemporary Benedictine order. She needed permission to continue her writing, and luckily it came along with a welcoming of her talents from the contemporaneous Pope Eugene III. Hildegard had started to record her visions when she was given permission to proceed. Volmar, a mentor of Hildegard since childhood, had a huge influence on Hildegard and her decisions according to the Scivias. There is much ambiguity on who actually wrote the Scivias, or who actually played a role in the creation of it. Therefore it is uncertain if Hildegard created the text on her own. The research included within this individual study will investigate the influence of patriarchal society of the creation of Hildegard of Bingen's Scivias. It will focus on the ways through which Hildegard was restricted in creating the Scivias in a solo manner, and the potential influences of Volmar on the physical act of transcending Hildegard's profane experiences with God.