This September we congratulate Sister Maria Parousia Clemens, SSVM on successfully defending her Master’s thesis “That They Might Sing the Song of the Lamb: The Spiritual Value of Singing the Liturgy for Hildegard of Bingen” (Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada) and we honor on September 17th the feast day of the newest woman to be named a Doctor of the Church: St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), the great Benedictine abbess, composer, author, and saint.
A contemporary of St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), St. Hildegard also brought in the great 12th century spirit of monastic reform to her Benedictine sisters. She preached in public squares at the request of Pope Hadrian IV and Pope Alexander III, and was consulted by bishops and secular leaders alike. Her care of the sisters was not always without obstacles, as Sr. Parousia’s thesis develops “from the saint’s letter to the Prelates of Mainz, which responds to an interdict prohibiting Hildegard’s monastery from singing the liturgy. Using the twelfth-century context of female monasticism, liturgy, music theory and ideas about body and soul, the thesis argues that Hildegard considered the sung liturgy essential to monastic formation.” (from the abstract of the thesis)
Pope Benedict XVI declared St. Hildegard of Bingen a Doctor of the Universal Church in an apostolic letter of October 7, 2012. Within this text, we can find a succinct summary of her life and works, as well as the Magisterial principles recognizing her holiness and teachings.
Let us give thanks for this new Doctor of the Church on her feast day, and once again recognize the work of Sister Parousia in completing her Master’s degree–many blessings on her Doctorate which she has begun to work on this fall at the University of Toronto!