Sometime between 1147 and 1150 – Hildegard recieves a command from God telling her to move her nuns to a new convent at Rupertsberg, away from their dominant monastery at Disibodenberg. Naturally, the monks resist – not only is Hildegard gaining in popularity and thus a great draw to their abbey, but once her convent is physically separate it would be impossible to maintain authority over it. Unable to fulfill her divine commandment, Hildegard falls so ill that she cannot move until permission is given for the convent to separate.
1150 – Hildegard and twenty nuns travel to Rupertsberg to build their new dwelling place. Funds are scarce, dissonance breeds among some of the convent, but with help from the Disibodenberg monastery the new building is completed – and in 1151, Hildegard completes her massive visionary work, the Scivias. It is here, at Rupertsberg, that she completes nearly all of her major works: many of the hymns and sequences in the Symphonia armonie celestium revelationum, her medical treatises Causae et curae and the Physica, the Liber vitae meritorum between 1158 and 1163, and the Liber divinorum operum between 1163 and 1174 in addition to multitudes of letters and her preface to the Vita Sancti Disibodi.
1178 – Clergy of Mainz demand that the body of an excommunicated man be disinterred from the Rupertsberg grounds; Hildegard disagrees and hides the grave. Her convent is then banned from celebrating the mass and from all singing. In response, she writes an intense letter about the place of music in spiritual life. Later that year, the ban is lifted.
17 September, 1179 – Hildegard dies and is buried at Rupertsberg.
I came across it quite by chance. It was one of those impulsive rambling moments; I had to wander for a bit before sitting back down at my books and I ended up over the Nahe onto the west bank, in Bingerbrück. There was a fairly imposing dark stone church sticking out of the skyline, and I found my way there.
As I approached, I saw a plaque I thought I recognized.
And my heart stopped.
Unfortunately, most of the remains of the original Rupertsberg were demolished in 1857 to create a railway, but supposedly parts of the crypt are still accessible up the hillside. (Next adventure, find these crypts!) The church that stands here is a combination of the old church building and relatively new (1975ish) restoration work. At this point, nobody is really sure where Hildegard is buried, but it is likely to be on or around this building.
The gate was open, but the large, heavy wooden door was locked – it appears I may have to attend a service to get inside the building. Still, nothing like starting two months of research by accidentally finding your subject’s burial place.
(no, the dates on the two plaques don’t match.)