Study Guides
Discover the Middle Ages through the eyes of the most influential woman of the twelfth century.

How Did St. Hildegard Understand the Universe?
The modern mind deconstructs the universe into components, dividing our knowledge of it into categories and types. This has greatly increased our knowledge of the universe, especially the physical realm, and given us technology unimaginable even a century ago. But this worldview would have been alien to medieval thinkers like Hildegard. They didn't see reality as a series of components to be deconstructed and measured, but as an integrated creation to be understood and appreciated.
Download the Medieval Worldview study guide
How Did St. Hildegard Live as a Nun?
The fall of Rome unraveled the fabric of Western Civilization and left many, if not most, of its citizens culturally and religiously adrift. Ninety years later, a young Roman nobleman named Benedict, barely twenty years old at the time, resolved to change his life by turning his back on the social decay and immorality he saw around him. Without setting out to do so, he launched a movement that would profoundly shape Western Civilization for a thousand years and make St. Hildegard of Bingen's accomplishments possible.
Download the Monastic Life study guide
What Was the Church of St. Hildegard's Day Like?
The Roman Catholic Church had roughly the same structure during the twelfth century that it does today. Local priests ministered to lay people. Bishops had authority over the churches and priests within their diocese, archbishops over several adjacent dioceses. At the top of the magisterium was the bishop of Rome, the pope. Abbots and abbesses were also under the authority of the pope through the hierarchy of their religious orders. From time to time, councils and synods were held to sort out the Church's position on controversial issues. But while the Church had roughly the same structure as today, the society it operated within was very different from ours.
Download the Medieval Church study guide
How Was Hildegard a Saint and Doctor?
In the Roman Catholic Church, a saint is someone formally recognized as having practiced heroic virtue, living an exceptionally holy life in faithful devotion to God and his grace. After their deaths, saints are especially close to Christ in heaven and thus able to more effectively pray to God for affairs on earth. Thus, the Church looks to the saints as models for faith and intercessors in times of need. The saints offer fresh hope and vitality to the life of the Church during dark times. St. Hildegard is a good example of this sort of renewal.
Download the Saints and Doctors study guide
How and Why Did St. Hildegard Learn and Teach?
Sometimes, we are tempted to think that people in the Middle Ages were not as smart as we are today. After all, people without antibiotics, aircraft, or atomic energy couldn't possibly know as much as we do, right? It's true that medieval thinkers didn't know as much as we do, but that's not because they were less intelligent. While medieval intellectuals like St. Hildegard were just as smart as intellectuals today, they were ignorant of much of what we know. Why?
Download the Medieval Intellectual Life study guide
Where Did St. Hildegard Live and Work?
St. Hildegard lived and preached within what is today the country of Germany. This study guide gives details of the geography of her life.
Download the Geography of St. Hildegard study guide

How Does St. Hildegard Fit into History?
St. Hildegard's life was deeply interconnected with her times, as well as the men and women who came before her. Find out where she fits into the history of the Western world.
Download the Chronology of St. Hildegard study guide