Academic journal article Magistra

Hildegard of Bingen: A Spiritual Reader

Academic journal article Magistra

Hildegard of Bingen: A Spiritual Reader

Article excerpt

Hildegard of Bingen: A Spiritual Reader, translated and compiled by Carmen Acevedo Butcher (Brewster, Mass.: Paraclete Press, 2006) 183 pages, paperback, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-55725-490-0.

Another pop version of Hildegard? Yes, and this one is definitely a sampler version. Butcher has brought in a little bit of everything: bits from books, songs, play, medical text and letters. What Butcher brings to it is her own poetic translations in which she occasionally uses a slightly different word, a sentence fragment, an informal tone, which may appeal to some readers but put off those who like their Hildegard approached a little more academically.

The bits are truly bits, most less than a page long, except for the Play of the Virtues and a couple of letters. Most of the selections are from among the better known of Hildegard's writings, and the author's introductions to each segment are pretty basic.

If the intent is to bring Hildegard to the masses in a simple and broad-ranging way, then the book has its place in that evergrowing array of books that introduce historic women mystics in palatable and entertaining bites. More than that, it doesn't pretend to be.

The publisher of the Hildegard book also has two books on Franciscan spirituality by Jon Sweeney: The St. Clare Prayer Book: Listening For God's Leading (Brewster, Mass.: Paraclete Press, 2007) 193 pages, paperback, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-55725513-6; and Light in the Dark Ages: The Friendship of Francis and Clare of Assisi (Brewster, Mass.: Paraclete Press, 2007) 204 pages, paperback, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-15572-476-4.

Unfortunately, despite the titles, neither has much to do specifically with St. Clare. The first is actually an attempt to introduce the reader (pray-er) to some of the same influences as Clare had. …

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