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Fri, Dec 02


Hallelujah Farm Retreat Center

Hildegard of Bingen, Magistra, Mystic, Musician

Hildegard of Bingen (1098 - 1179 CE) was a German magistra or monastic leader, mystic, healer, artist, author, counsellor, and composer.

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Hildegard of Bingen, Magistra, Mystic, Musician
Hildegard of Bingen, Magistra, Mystic, Musician

Time & Location

Dec 02, 2022, 5:00 PM – Dec 04, 2022, 11:00 AM

Hallelujah Farm Retreat Center, 170 Gulf Rd, Chesterfield, NH 03443, USA


About the event

In this weekend retreat/workshop we will explore the several facets of Saint Hildegard's prolific life, with 

Melinda Gardiner and Robert Bowler

In one of her most famous passages, she wrote, "Listen: there was once a king sitting on his throne. Around Him stood great and wonderfully beautiful columns ornamented with ivory, bearing the banners of the king with great honor. Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground, and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself, but because the air bore it along. Thus am I, a feather on the breath of God."

Hildegard was born into a family of nobles. Because she was a tenth child, and a sickly one from birth, and, perhaps as a political move, at the age of eight, Hildegard's parents sent her as a tithe to the church.

From the time she was very young, Hildegard claimed to have visions. She received a prophetic call from God five years after her election as magistra, female leader of a monastic foundation or abbess, in 1141 demanding of her, "Write what you see". At first she was hesitant about writing her visions, holding them inside. She was finally convinced to write by members of her order after falling physically ill from carrying the unspoken burden.

She collected her visions into three books: the first and most important Scivias ("Know the Way") completed in 1151, Liber vitae meritorum ("Book of Life's Merits") and De operatione Dei ("Of God's Activities") also known as Liber divinorum operum ("Book of Divine Works").

Recent interest in women in the medieval church has led to a popularization of Hildegard - and particularly of her music. Approximately eighty compositions survive, which is a far larger repertoire than almost any other medieval composer. In addition to music, Hildegard also wrote books and articles on medical, botanical and geological subjects, and she even invented an alternative alphabet.

Hildegard was a powerful woman by the standards of the Middle Ages. She counselled popes, statesmen, emperors, abbots and abbesses. She traveled widely, giving public speeches, a rarity for a woman of the time.

Our experiences of Hildegard will be enhanced by contemplative prayer and other spiritual practices, song, music, optional spiritual direction, informal discussion and personal time as well as the main group sessions.

The faculty for the retreat include Melinda Gardiner, musician, music therapist and nurse, and Robert Bowler, an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister.


Melinda Gardiner is a singer, player of the lever harp and wire-strung cláirseach, liturgical musician, retreat leader, teacher, Registered Nurse, and Certified Music Practitioner(CMP)® .  She has been offering therapeutic music to patients in many settings since 1990, and has been a member of the faculty of the Music for Healing & Transition Program since 1997.  She has been a Certified Music Practitioner since 1998.   As a liturgical musician and cantor, Melinda has promoted the singing of St. Hildegard of Bingen's music in the context of liturgy for feast-days.  She is the co-author, with Mona Peck, of Shadows of the Living Light:  Songs of Hildegard of Bingen and Five Songs for Therapeutic Musicians.

Robert Bowler or "Beau" will be our host and chaplain, and he will lead the contemplative prayer services. He is the Director of Stone Church Center. He majored in Religious Studies at Reed College with a focus on the western mystical tradition. He earned an M.Div. degree from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California and is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister.

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