This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
1. In our contemporary culture, we can little fathom walling a child into a small space as a spiritual offering--a living sacrifice. How did this kind of isolation and austerity effect Hildegard's character and later life? How much of her "genius" might have had its genesis in learning to preserve her sanity in such inauspicious surroundings? 2. Hildegard's magistra and spiritual mother, Jutta von Sponheim, embraced a spiritual path that involved extreme asceticism in the form of fasting and self-flagellation. How was Hildegard able to forge such a different spiritual path for herself, one that embraced the sacred in the natural world and a vision of overpowering divine love? 3. From earliest childhood, Hildegard experienced radiant visions. If she were a modern child, how do you think people would view her? What kind of "diagnosis" would experts pin on her? Do you think her visions were triggered by a neurological disorder? 4. Hildegard was deeply shaped by the relationships in her life: with Jutta, Volmar, and later Richardis. What ultimate "gift" did each of these relationships give her. 5. After reading of Hildegard's many struggles, torments, and triumphs, what would you conclude is her greatest lesson for us today?
About the author: The author of four critically acclaimed novels, Mary Sharratt is an American who lived for twelve years in Germany, which, along with her interest in sacred music and herbal medicine, inspired her to write Illuminations.