Two New Doctors of the Church

From Vatican Radio:

The Holy See announced today that Pope Benedict XVI will preside at the Solemn Mass for the opening of the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

The General Assembly will open on 7 October, the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

During the Mass, the Pope will proclaim Saint John of Avila and Saint Hildegard of Bingen “Doctors of the Church.”

St. John of Avila, a 16th century Spanish priest, was known for his preaching and for his reform of clerical life in his native country, while his spiritual works have enjoyed widespread popularity.

The 12th century German mystic St. Hildegard of Bingen was a professed member of the Benedictine order. She is known for her extensive writings and visions.

Pope Benedict will concelebrate the General Assembly’s opening Mass with the Synod Fathers, and with Bishops from the Spanish and German Episcopal Conferences.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Juho says:

    Does anyone know if this change puts these two saints in the General Calendar or not?

  2. Tricia says:

    Does anyone know where I can get a copy of St. Hildegard’s book “Physica”? It is her book on healing using plants, herbs, oils, etc. Poor St. Hildegard has often been hijacked by New Agers . One translated part says “earth fairies” when St. Hildegard explicitly wrote “demons”!
    I also want to find an accurate translation of “Scivias”; a theological work.
    I have not been able to find ACCURATE translations. I do not think the translations on Amazon are accurate. I would appreciate any help re this.

  3. benedetta says:

    I have been reading the work of St. John of Avila, “Listen, Daughter” over the past year. It is a very encouraging work.

  4. Mary Jane says:

    SO cool!

  5. @Juho: No, it does not change their feast days. St. Hildegard remains on September 17, and St. John on May 10.

    @Tricia: There is, in fact, an excellent translation of Scivias available through the Classics of Western Spirituality series published by Paulist Press. It was translated by Mother Columba Hart and Jane Bishop and released in 1990, and is highly recommended (as long as you look past its rather drab reinterpretations of Hildegard’s manuscript illuminations). The current best translation available for the Physica is that of Priscilla Throop, which really isn’t as bad as you make it out to be — the real problem is that we still have no good critical edition of the work, mainly because its manuscript tradition is terribly difficult to unravel and probably fairly corrupted. There is also a serviceable edition of Hildegard’s other (and in my opinion, more important) “scientific” work, Causae et Curae, available (under the title, Hildegard of Bingen: Healing and the Nature of the Cosmos) — but I say that it is only “serviceable” as it was translated from Heinrich Schipperges’ abbridged German version, rather than from the original Latin; and Schipperges was working from an inferior early 20th-century edition of the text rather than the newer, better one by Laurence Moulinier. For the poetical texts that Hildegard composed with her liturgical music, I can highly recommend the outstanding edition and translation of Barbara Newman, titled Symphonia (Cornell Univ. Press, 1988, 2nd ed. 1998).

    Sadly, Hildegard’s true magnum opus, the Liber Divinorum Operum, remains without a good English translation (the one currently in wide circulation was put out by Matthew Fox’s folks down in Santa Fe and should be avoided). I am currently working to remedy that situation with my own translating efforts — but teaching college freshmen about the history of western civilization is a time-demanding job of its own (but well worth the effort!)

    I’d be curious to hear from other readers of WDTPRS about what they think St. Hildegard’s and St. John’s doctoral “nicknames” should be (i.e. on the pattern of St. Thomas the Doctor Angelicus and St. Augustine the Doctor Gratiae). I have put together my own list of suggestions for St. Hildegard, which include Doctor Visionis, Doctor Viriditatis, Doctor Symphoniae, and Doctor Divini Operis.

  6. Gail F says:

    How about “Doctor New Age”? Because the New Age people LOVE Hildegard von Bingen. Not that she is bad or anything, but they have their own version of her.

  7. Juho says:

    @ScitoviasDomini: That was not exactly my question. I would like to know if these saints, who so far have not had world-wide feast days, will from now on be included in the General Calendar and thus also in the calendars of all dioceses. Has somebody got an answer? :)

  8. @Juho: My presumption is that being a Doctor of the Church would inscribe St. John of Avila in the calendar. St. Hildegard’s feast was added to the General Calendar by the act of equivalent canonization back in May (I’m sure if you dig around you can find Fr. Z’s post about that) — but, as I pointed out on his post today about reconciling the EF and OF calendars, her feast day (Sept. 17) is shared by another Doctor of the Church, St. Robert Bellarmine. As far as I know, there has been no official notice on who takes precedence for that day in the general calendar.

  9. The Masked Chicken says:

    There is an asteroid named after St. Hildehard: 898 Hildegard.

    The Chicken

  10. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: Physica, it’s not clear whether St. Hildegarde was writing about demons or daemons. For example, Socrates’ “daemon” generally has a positive face in Christian writings, as being more like an angel or a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. You also get some medieval writers using it as shorthand for “stuff that causes a process, the how of which I don’t understand.” (Maxwell’s Demon is a late example of such a usage.) I agree that “earth fairy” is not the most felicitous translation ever, but it’s not totally pulled out of the translator’s butt.

    Once we have a critical edition of all of the good saint’s writings, translators will be able to look around and see what contexts she uses for the word; and there will probably be more critical editions of contemporary German writers also, including those who influenced her or were influenced by her. This will make better translations possible. In the meantime, the translation of Hildegarde’s reliance on licorice root and fennel is very clear, so we can stick to that!

  11. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I forgot to add that German fairy critters are not a particularly friendly lot, so there’s still a fairly malign or unfriendly connotation.

  12. Juho says:

    @Scitovias: Thanks for reminding, of course St Hildegard is already in the General (or is it Universal?) Calendar. St Robert Bellarmine is an optional memorial as well as (presumably) St Hildegard, so they can coexist on the same day.

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