Experiencing Hildegard of Bingen: A Multipart Series through April 2017

Brother Mickey McGrathCome delve into the life and creativity of Hildegard of Bingen, a twelfth-century Rhineland mystic, writer, healer, leader, playwright, composer, and preacher. In 2012, 833 years after her death, she was declared a saint of the universal church and one of only four women among 35 persons officially recognized in Catholicism as a “Doctor of the Church.”

In addition to a thorough examination of her life and visions, this interdisciplinary series, which began in September 2016, explores a Jungian perspective on her visions and key theological topics found in her writings, such as the dark side of God, the divine feminine, mother church, and her concept of the green life-force, viriditas.  Compare mandalas in her visions and those found in Jung’s Red Book and probe Celtic influences on her spirituality. We’ll wrap up in April 2017 with a retreat and reflections on the contemporary implications of Hildegard’s life and thought led by Avis Clendenen, author of Experiencing Hildegard: Jungian Perspectives.

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Schedule & Assignments

“She stands in history as a woman too strong for the church to either deny or affirm for nearly a thousand years… a mystic, an encyclopedist, an artist, a leader, a public figure, a spiritual teacher, fearless carrier of the best ideals of her time, and, most of all, a prophetic model of a future worldchurch.  This is not a woman for all seasons; this is a woman for all centuries.” 

Joan Chittister

Opening Event: Friday, September 16, 7:00 - 9:15 pm
Introduction to Hildegard.
Includes viewing the award-winning German film “Vision: From the Life of Hildegard of Bingen” followed by brief discussion.

Session One: Saturday, September 17, 8:30 - 12:00 pm
An overview of course contents plus ritual and celebration of Hildegard’s life and ministry on this Feast Day of Hildegard.
Read chapters 1 &2, in Clendenen, Experiencing Hildegard.

Session Two: Tuesday, October 18, 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Spirituality and mysticism.
Hildegard from a Jungian perspective. Overview of Jungian psychology and key ideas in it. Interplay of light and shadow, and the dark side of God.
Read chapters 3,4,5 in Clendenen, Experiencing Hildegard.
*If you are attending this session, please bring something that connects you to Hildegard.

Session Three: Tuesday, November 15, 6:30 - 8:30 pm
A primary theological view of Hildegard: viriditas, the green-life force. Ecology. Hildegard and Celtic spirituality.
Read chapter 8 in Clendenen, Experiencing Hildegard.

Session Four: Tuesday, December 20, 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Hildegard’s Feminine Divine, and Mater Ecclesia (Mother Church): an Advent exploration.
Read chapters 6 & 7 in Clendenen, Experiencing Hildegard.

Session Five: Tuesday, January 17, 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Hildegard and Music.
The January session will include a presentation on Hildegard’s music by Dr. Patricia Cahalan Connors, chair of the music department at St. Catherine University. The evening will also include a discussion on Hildegard having been named a Doctor of the Church in 2012 (one of only four women so honored in Church history) and implications for today.

Session Six: Tuesday, February 28, 6:30 - 8:30 pm (DATE CHANGE)
Hildegard and Healing.

Join Dr. Wighard Strehlow, director of the Hildegard Center in Allensbach, Germany, to learn more about Hildegard’s concept of health and well-being and its application to contemporary life. Her holistic approach and her influence on premodern medicine is being rediscovered, with a focus on the unity of mind, body and soul.

Click here to access the video shown at the end of Dr. Strehlow's talk on 2/28/17.  Start at 4:40 to hear the speaker; music begins at 5:50.

Session Seven: Tuesday, March 21, 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Hildegard and Art.
Comparing the symbol of wholeness, the Mandela, in Hildegard’s visions and Jung’s Red Book, his personal journal. The evening offers a conversation with artist Elizabeth Erickson and her exploration with Hildegard’s art.

Retreat: Friday, April 21, 7:00 - 9:00 pm and Saturday April 22, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
CLOSING RETREAT with lunch included, presented by Avis Clendenen
Experiencing Hildegard of Bingen: Medieval Nun, Doctor of the Church, Wisdom Figure for Our Time
Avis Clendenen will explore in greater depth the richness that Hildegard and Carl Jung, 12th and 20th century mystics, bring to us precisely because we need them now more than ever. Avis will draw on technology and the arts, scholarly research, and ritual, with plenty of time for group conversation and engagement.

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Required Text

Experiencing Hildegard: Jungian Perspectives
Expanded and Revised Version
Avis Clendenen, 2012, Chiron Publications


Additional recommended readings and resources:

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A bibliography of other books will be available that participants can choose from to read and give brief reports if they wish.

Atherton, Mark, trans. Hildegard of Bingen: Selected Writings. Penguin Books, 2001.

Clarke, J.J. Jung and Eastern Thought: A Dialogue with the Orient. London: Routledge, 1994.

Clift, Wallace.  Jung and Christianity.  New York: Crossroad, 1983.

Dreyer, Elizabeth.  Accidental Theologians. Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2014.

Jung, Carl:

Ohanneson, Joan. Hildegard of Bingen: Lady of the Light, Woman for the World.New York: Crossroad, 1997.

The Unruly Mystic, 2015, documentary produced by Michael Conti Productions.
Available at Wisdom Ways.


Mary Kaye Medinger, MA, is a lifelong educator with a particular interest in women’s history and spirituality. A writer, editor and retreat leader, she holds degrees in history, education and pastoral studies as well as certificates in holistic health studies, spiritual direction and The Sacred Art of Living and Dying. A consociate of the Sisters of St. Joseph, she has spent 37 years in various ministerial positions in parish, diocesan and ecumenical settings. Hildegard is one of her mentors!


Ed Sellner, PhD, is professor emeritus in theology, St. Catherine University, where he has taught undergraduate and graduate courses for the past 35 years and administered pastoral ministry, spiritual direction, and master’s degree programs.  Ed has studied at the Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland, and is the author of 12 books on mentoring, Celtic spirituality, the history of Western monasticism and spirituality, and more recently on Buddhism and other Asian religions. He has long been an admirer of Hildegard, and shared his enthusiasm for her in many courses.

Avis Clendenen, PhD, DMin, author of Experiencing Hildegard: Jungian Perspectives (Expanded and Revised Edition, 2012), is professor emerita of religious studies at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, where she also served as Sister Irene  Dugan R.C. Scholar in Spirituality. A pastoral theologian and gifted teacher, Avis provides days of reflection and retreats that integrate the arts and technology, exploring the intersections of Christian spirituality, depth psychology and the tasks of living fully in the second half of life. She is the co-author of Love is All Around in Disguise, and Forgiveness: Finding Freedom through Reconciliation. Avis will lead the closing retreat in April 2017.

Patricia Cahalan Connors is the Director of Choral Activities and Chair of the Department of Music and Theater at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN. She conducts the Women's Choir and the St. Catherine Choral Society.  Periodically, she forms the Madrigal Singers and produces the fully costumed Renaissance Madrigal Feastes. In addition, she is a frequent collaborator in the production of musical theater, serving as vocal director, pit orchestra conductor or pianist. She holds masters and doctoral degrees in choral conducting from Indiana University and the University of Iowa, respectively, and a bachelor of Music Education from Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, Indiana.  Her conducting teachers included Don V Moses, Julius Herford and Helmuth Rilling.  Dr. Connors has served as guest conductor/clinician for choral festivals throughout the midwest, including the Indiana All State Women's Choir, the Minnesota Community College Honor Choir, The Marquette Chorus Festival, Star of the North Chamber Choir Festival and the Drake Choir Festival.  Her research has involved 18th century Venetian composers.  She is the editor of Miserere mei, a work in 6 movements for women's voices and strings, by Johann Adolph Hasse (Alliance Publications of Fish Creek, WI) and Magnificat a 4 “da capella” by Baldassare Galuppi (Paraclete Press).  Dr. Patricia Cahalan Connors will be at the January 17, 2017, session.

Dr. Wighard Strehlow is a naturopath who treats patients using medicine, healing methods, nutrition and spirituality based on the visions of Hildegard of Bingen.  Co-author of Hildegard of Bingen's Medicine and author of Hildegard of Bingen's Spiritual Remedies, he directs and practices at the Hildegard Center on Lake Constance in southern Germany. Dr. Strehlow is married to Karin, a concert pianist, who is a native of Minnesota! Dr. Strehlow will be at the February 28, 2017, session.


Painter, poet, and educator Elizabeth Erickson is a founding member of the Women's Art Registry of Minnesota (WARM) and the Women's Art Institute. In the 1990s, Erickson embarked on a continuing series of abstract paintings inspired by the life and art of Hildegard, whose preoccupation with language, light, and female spirituality remain a source of inspiration for Erickson. Elizabeth will be at the March 21, 2017, session.

Opening Event:
Friday, September 16, 7:00 - 9:15 pm
Session One: Saturday, September 17, 8:30 am - 12:00 pm
Single Sessions Two through Seven: Tuesdays, October 18, November 15, December 20, January 17, February 28, & March 21, 6:30 - 8:30 pm
April Retreat: Friday, April 21, 7:00 - 9:00 pm, and Saturday, April 22, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

$350.00: All sessions and materials through April 2017.  
$15.00:  Opening Event, Friday, September 16, 7:00 - 9:15 pm
$35.00:  Session One, Saturday, September 17, 8:30 am - 12:00 pm
$35.00:  Single Sessions Two through Seven, Tuesdays, October 18, November 15, December 20, January 17, February 28, & March 21, 6:30 - 8:30 pm
$140.00:  April retreat, Friday, April 21, 7:00 - 9:00 pm, and Saturday, April 22, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm (includes lunch on April 22).

Registration for this series is now closed.