The Trip
Bad Ems
Bad Kreuznach
Abtei St. Hildegard  Lennep  Remagen/Linz

Tracing Roman Germania 2002
Tracing Roman Germania 2003 in the works
Ancient Rome as seen in the year 2001
Photo of Abtei, click here for photos Head section of Hildegard statue,click here for more photos


A short train ride north of Wiesbaden lies the small, very touristy Rhine town of Rüdesheim. High above it amongst vineyards is the Abbey of St. Hildegard, a Benedictine convent. There, I visited an old friend. It's a rather strict, contemplative order, but even they have relaxed their rules somewhat as far as visitors go: to my surprise, our friend greeted me at the main door; last time we went to see her, we had to meet in a visitor's room with two doors, one for the visitors and one for the resident.

Of course, the place is famous for its founder Hildegard of Bingen, who started the convent in 1148, her second one. The first was across the river in Bingen itself. The convent always remained a small one until 1900, when the current large structure was built in the neo-romanesque style (here are some photos). But today, the number of the nuns has decreased again. They derive their income from the wine they grow, from Benedictine liqueur, and through other ventures, the latest being management training courses based on the Rules of Benedict…The current abbess is the 39th successor of Hildegard.

Update 2010: Women's History, Hildegard of Bingen.

In front of the church there is a lovely modern statue of St. Hildegard. The Benedictine Hildegard von Bingen was born in 1098 A.D. not far away, in Bermersheim near Alzey, daughter of a count, and from childhood on she was said to have visionary gifts. But she was also known as “prophet, preacher, woman, saint and artist.” Today she is probably best known through her music. She died at an old age in 1179 after a year marred by a church interdict, which was only lifted shortly before here death.

More on the Benedictines.

© Irene B. Hahn 1999

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