, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 22–35 | Cite as

The prophetess and the pope: St. Hildegard of Bingen, Pope Benedict XVI, and prophetic visions of church reform

  • Nathaniel M. Campbell
Original Article


Pope Benedict XVI seemed an unlikely fellow to declare Hildegard of Bingen a Doctor of the Church in 2012. Yet Joseph Ratzinger’s studies as a medievalist disposed him to the symbolist tendencies of Hildegard and her contemporaries in reflecting on the relationship among scripture, history, and the Church. Deeply affected by the abuse of political power and corruption within the Church, both Ratzinger and Hildegard developed prophetic outlooks on the nature of the Church and its mission in the world, centered on the singular light of Christ’s Incarnation. We find, across the centuries, a shared embrace of the enigmatic tension between the Church’s corrupted institutions and their prophetic renewal. Ironically, Hildegard came to distrust the authority of the papacy and prophesied its ending, even as Benedict would be, as pope, her greatest champion.



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathaniel M. Campbell
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Humanities and Social SciencesUnion CollegeBarbourvilleUSA

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