Hildegard of Bingen as a Holy Healer: Healing the Patient, Restoring the World

Ami Watanabe

Abstract


By examining the five letters exchanged between Hildegard of Bingen and two monks concerning a demon-possessed woman, this article explores the ways in which twelft h-century ecclesiastics understood and treated demonic possession. A close examination of the letters reveals that demonic possession was considered as a communal illness that threatened not only an individual’s well-being but also the spiritual integrity of the community. The identification of demonic possession as a communal disease explains why an ecclesiastic had to write to implore the help of Hildegard, who was known to her contemporaries as both a saint and a healer. Medieval understanding of demonic possession required a specific kind of cure: miraculous healing performed by a saint. This healing was culturally constructed in a way to restore the spiritual well-being of the community that medieval subjects imagined demonic possession disrupted.

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ISSN (Print): 1705-2947
ISSN (Online): 1712-5634