Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

The subject of this blog is courageous women. As I sat down to write my thoughts for the coming year, I made a personal resolution to be more like the women I write about.

It just so happens that my family and I watched a movie about Irena Sendler last night. Irena is one of the many women who have inspired me over the years. Irena put her life on the line to rescue over 2500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto during WWII. I cannot really imagine what it would be like to put my life on the line in order to rescue helpless victims. Would God give me the courage to do it? My prayer is that He would. He certainly gave Irena incredible courage.

To celebrate the New Year I am thanking God for our gift of freedom of worship and life here in our country. I pray that He will continue to bless our country.

I hope you have a blessed New Year. Consider watching the movie about Irena Sendler for encouragement in your faith and life.

MOVIE: The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler

Anna Paquin; Marcia Gay Harden; Goran Visnjic (Actors), John Kent Harrison (Director), 2009.
Other movies have been made about Irena Sendler. I heard that there is even a new one coming out later this year. I am sure I will watch it!!

Here is an interesting site you can go to right now:

► 2:08► 2:08 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXP5Gvxqgsg


In the meantime – “spoiler alert” – Here is a short account of her life. The movie follows it pretty well.

Irena Sendler – A Woman of Courage and Faith

Though she rescued more than 2500 children and babies from the Warsaw ghetto during WWII, Irena Sendler remained a humble woman taking no credit for her heroic work up until her death, at the age of 98 in May 2008. She said that she wished she had done even more.

Irena Sendler was one of the most courageous women who has ever lived. She not only put her life on the line to rescue Jewish children right under the noses of the Nazis, but she also had to do it in an atmosphere of ambivalence or even hatred from her fellow German countrymen. Many who called themselves Christians in Germany were too afraid to help the Jews. In my last blog posting I asked whether or not doing nothing about the human trafficking problem in our day is considered a sin of omission. Many in Germany during WWII were certainly also guilty of this sin by ignoring the plight of the Jews.

I really admire the way that Irena Sendler went about defying the Nazis. She did not start riots or create anarchy in any way. She merely went about quietly saving the lives of babies and children. We do not have to cause trouble in order to reject wicked laws; it is enough to at least rescue and care for the victims. This kind of love and courage was exemplified in Irena’s life.

Irena Sendler was born in 1910 in Otwock, a town located about fifteen miles southeast of Warsaw. Her father was a doctor and many of his patients were poor Jews.

When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939 they murdered many thousands. At that time Irena was a Polish social worker. She was able to help many Jews by giving them fictitious Christian names. Others were protected when Irena reported that their homes were afflicted with highly infectious diseases such as typhus or tuberculosis. The Nazis avoided them.

This worked for a while, but in 1942 the Nazis herded hundreds of thousands of Jews into a 16-block area that came to be known as the Warsaw ghetto. The area was sealed off and the Jews were just awaiting death. Eventually their numbers would dwindle to only about 55,000 and then the Nazis would send those remaining to the death camps.

Irena was shocked and sickened. She joined a Polish underground movement and began her efforts to rescue Jewish children.

Irena managed to be able to enter the ghetto legally by getting a pass as a worker for Warsaw’s Epidemic Control Department. She took in as much food, medicine, and clothing as she could, but 5000 people a month were dying. She tried to convince some mothers to let her smuggle their children out.

Irena talked some friends, many only teenagers, into helping her take aid into the ghetto and children out of the ghetto. They hid the children on trams and garbage wagons. Some children left the ghetto in body bags or gunnysacks. At least one child left in an ambulance. Some children lay under the floorboards of a wagon that had a large dog on top whose barking could cover their cries. They led some children out in underground passageways and through the city sewers. They obtained forged Catholic birth certificates so that the children could live safely in the homes that volunteered to take them.

The children were taught prayers and how to behave in a church. In this way they were able to prevent the arrest and execution of those who were brave enough to adopt the children by fooling the Nazis into thinking they were Christians. Lest you think Irena was only proselytizing, she fully intended to unite as many children as she could after the war with their parents. She put the names of the more than 2500 children that she rescued into jars. She then buried the jars in the neighbor’s yard under an apple tree.

The Nazis eventually caught on to what she was doing. She was arrested on October 20, 1943, and imprisoned and tortured. The Nazis broke both of her feet and her legs crippling her for life. Under this torture she never revealed a single name of a co-conspirator or any other people who were helping. By this time there were many children living in convents, but Irena never gave away anyone who was helping the children. The punishment for helping Jews was instant death.

At one point, Irena was sentenced to death, but she was saved at the last minute when the Polish underground was able to bribe a Gestapo agent to set her free.

After the war Irena dug up the jars and tried to search for the children’s parents. Unfortunately, most of the Jewish adults had died in the death camps. The children had only known Irena by her code name, Jolanta, and it was difficult for them to try and find out what happened to their parents. However, there were many happy stories. Years later a man who saw Irena’s picture in the paper called her. He said, “I remember your face. It was you who took me out of the ghetto.”

Irena was a candidate to receive the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, but the honor was not awarded to her. Instead it was given to Al (“I invented the computer”) Gore. The International Federation of Social Workers expressed their disappointment, “However IFSW is deeply saddened that the life work of Nobel nominee Irena Sendler, social worker, did not receive formal recognition. Irena Sendler and her helpers took personal risks day after day to prevent the destruction of individual lives — the lives of the children of the Warsaw ghetto. This work was done very quietly, without many words and at the risk of their lives. “

Truly Irena deserved the award more than the actual recipient. Perhaps in the years ahead this wrong will be righted.

Poland honored her at a special ceremony in their upper house of Parliament. It was very fitting that Elzbieta Ficowska, who was six months old when she was saved by Irena read out a letter on Irena’s behalf: “Every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this Earth, and not a title to glory,” Irena Sendler said in the letter, “Over a half-century has passed since the hell of the Holocaust, but its spectre still hangs over the world and doesn’t allow us to forget.”

The world should be grateful for courageous women like Irena Sendler.

I hope you all have a blessed New Year!

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Christian Women in the Early Church

For the last few months I have posted stories on significant women from the Patristic age. The lives of many thousands of people were touched as these women followed their call from God to a life of service in His Kingdom.

Due to space, the blog posts barely cover short stories of their lives. I tried to include some background in the posts, but much more has been written about life for women during the first 5 centuries after Christ. Here are 4 of the books that I relied heavily on. They do a very thorough job of recounting the stories of early Church women, their culture, and their legacies. They are both informative and exciting to read and I highly recommend them as a truly enjoyable way to learn history!


— Cohick, Lynn H. and Hughes, Amy Brown.  Christian Women in the Patristic World: Their Influence, Authority, and Legacy in the Second through Fifth Centuries(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017).


This scholarly work contains the stories of women in the early Church. The book also demonstrates how the Church was helped in its formation by women. Women did more than share the good news of salvation in Christ. They helped shape theology and culture.

The authors, Lynn H. Cohick and Amy Brown Hughes bring the far distant past to life for us with their extremely engaging writing. I can’t put it any better than Scot McKnight in his credit for the book, “I constantly encourage students and pastors to tell more stories about women in the early church from the pulpit, in classes, and in casual conversations. … Christian Women in the Patristic World… is a book for every pastor’s and teachers’ bookshelf because it not only tells stories about women but also shows how the early church, which has often been maligned for its reputation when it comes to women, was more formed by women than many know.”



Cooper, Kate. Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women(New York, NY: The Overlook Press, 2013).


Kate Cooper’s book gives us a picture of women in the early Church. She focuses on the stories of the individual women by putting them in their cultural context. Her chapters are somewhat divided according to the purpose and path of each woman’s life rather than a chronological order. She begins with women named in the Bible in the first century. A pivotal character is Thecla who was a disciple of the apostle Paul. Though not named in the Bible, Thecla’s story is widely known and she became an example of the early Christian life of ascetism, piety, evangelism, and pilgrimage.

Other topics include martyrs, mothers, pilgrims, desert mothers, scholars, and empresses. If you followed my series on women in the Patristic era (Posts February through May, 2019) these categories will look familiar. Kate Cooper’s book is a joy to read. She connects all of these women to the overall culture and to each other. If you want to know more about history this is a really enjoyable way to learn it.



Deen, EdithGreat Women of the Christian Faith, (Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour and Company, Inc., 1959).


In this book on great Christian women in history, you will encounter the stories of 45 spiritual leaders and 76 other women from around the world. The stories include women from many denominations. Theological controversies are put aside. The important thing about each woman is that she loves Jesus and that her life shows how she served God faithfully.

You will be inspired as you read the stories of martyrs, mothers, wives, and even political leaders. The stories span the last twenty centuries (at least up until the writing of the book in 1959).

Of special interest for this review is the fact that Edith Deen relates the stories many women from the Patristic Era (2nd through 5th centuries) including some who were not covered in the blog posts. Edith Deen had a great gift as a storyteller and I think you will find it to be a great book to share with your daughters and other Christian women who are interested in stories of past female saints.


 – Kavanagh, JuliaWomen of Christianity, Exemplary for Acts of Piety and Charity, (My copy is a public domain reprint. Originally published by D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1869).


Don’t let the nineteenth century English deter you. The book is so full of stories of women that you have never heard of and is so fascinating that you will be delighted to wade through it.

The author explains that it would have taken her many years to cover all of the great and pious women in history; the present book is only the beginning. (There are hundreds of women included.) Of course, it only goes through 1869, but we have many modern good books to fill in since then. (Such as the other 3 books reviewed above.)

Obviously Julia Kavanagh had to condense a lot of stories, but I hope that it will encourage the reader to get larger biographies of these women; many are easy to find on Amazon.com or at other booksellers.

Her criteria for the women she chose from history included those women who, “inherited this spirit (the spirit of Christ), who have filled their lives with acts of self-denial, who like their great Master, have gone about doing good.” All of the women in the “Women of the Patristic Era” blog series fit this description.



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Dear Readers,

I am currently in the middle of the second year of pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree. Over a year ago I posted that I would like to write a book about women in ministry using some of the over 200 stories that are on my blog. I have recently changed my mind and will be writing a curriculum on women in the Bible and history. Some day I might write a whole book but for now I believe I need to write Bible stories.

The reason: I sent a survey on women in the Bible to many churches and received very disappointing results. For one thing, very few men said that the speak about women from the pulpit. There were many reasons, but I am concerned that this is NOT encouraging to women. At the very least it makes us feel unnecessary.

More importantly, the stories are in God’s Word. God included the stories of women for our benefit. When we skip over them we lose out on what God would teach us. That includes all of the inspiring stories of women that God has used in Kingdom work.

An important reason for writing a curriculum is to show that God does indeed use women in ministry. But equally important is a list of resources for women to use. I have been blessed by each and every book or article I have read. An important part of the curriculum will be a bibliography containing a list of the many books available. Other women will be blessed too as they read these inspiring stories.

So, for the next few weeks we will be looking at the stories of women in the Bible. Most of these women will be very familiar to you, but we will examine them more closely than you may have had opportunity to in the past.

The first and foremost attention will be paid to what the Bible has to say about the women. There is a lot of misinformation out there that can be cleared up by just looking at what the Bible actually says.

For example – what would most people say the occupation of Mary of Magdala was? It might surprise you to learn that the Bible does not say that Mary was a prostitute. This idea originated with Pope Gregory the Great in the late sixth century and it has stuck to this day. Hollywood has helped to cement the idea in place by castigating Mary as a loose woman. I don’t expect anything better than that from a group that uses lurid details to sell movies whether they are accurate or not. But I would like a chance to set the record straight for Christians by telling the story from the Bible.

And so, that will be the format of all of these lessons. We will begin by reading the Scriptures. Next, I will bring in some background material from well-respected Christian historians. Why are these stories in the Bible? What can we learn from them? How do they fit in with God’s overall plan of Redemption?

The Bible is really a story with the Lord Jesus Christ as the central character. The stories of the men and the women in the Bible are interesting and important in themselves, but they all point to God’s plan of salvation. By studying the stories of these women in their context, we can see how they fit into God’s plan of redemption.

Jesus asked the Church to take the Gospel to all of the nations. That is a big job. It will take all Christians, men and women working together to fulfill the Great Commission.

Are we looking forward to Christ’s appearing? There is only one place in the Scriptures that gives us an indication of when Christ will return. “The gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) Now with technology, GPS, easy travel, more cooperation between some countries, and the many new Mission Organizations I believe that we can reach every nation. This is exciting for all of us who look for and love His appearing.

And so please study and enjoy the stories of God’s kingdom women. You are a kingdom woman! How will God use you to bless others while you serve Him?




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This week I watched a beautiful production of the life of Lilias Trotter.

“Many Beautiful Things: The Life and Vision of Lilias Trotter:

Featuring the voices of Michelle Dockery (Downtown Abbey) and John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones)

Directed by award-winning filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson

Original Music:  Sleeping at Last

This video was released in 2015 by Oxvision and is 70 minutes long.

Available at Amazon or Vision Video.

I am going to do a full post on the life of Lilias Trotter in the near future. In the meantime, her story is beautifully told in the video. Below is the description from the video, since I could not improve on their summary.

Description (from the DVD):

Could you give up a dream to pursue your true calling? That’s exactly what Lilias Trotter did.  The documentary Many Beautiful Things shares her life story, explaining the heart-wrenching decision she made to give up comfort and potential fame in Victorian England to serve women and children in Northern Africa.

Lilias was a gifted artist who found favor in the eyes of respected art critic John Ruskin. Ruskin mentored Lilias in her artistic endeavors, seeing such potential that he claimed her work could be “immortal.”  She wrestled mightily with the decision, but eventually moved to French Algeria to share God’s love with the people there—a choice that was almost unheard of for a single woman of that time.

This artistically produced documentary uses Lilias’s paintings and journal entries to share her story. Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) provides the voice of Lilias Trotter and John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones) portrays John Ruskin in this 70-minute documentary. The DVD also includes special features, such as “behind the scenes” with Michelle Dockery and a theatrical trailer.



I was so entranced by Lilias Trotter’s life and vision that I researched where one could find more about her including some of her drawings on the Web.

You can get a Miriam Huffman Rockness’s biography, “A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter” on Amazon.com. You can also get books containing reprints of her many inspirational drawings.

There are many places available where you can find prints of her inspirational drawings. I purchased a beautiful print on wood from:


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Richard & Sabina Wurmbrand: The Underground Pastor and His Wife

Produced by the Christian History Institute and Voice of the Martyrs

Distributed by Vision Video
50 minutes


The story of Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand is very moving. While some say that it is “out of date” because the Soviet empire has come down, the story of Christian persecution is just as real today as it ever was.


Thousands of Christians are dying each year in Muslim countries and many other places. Please subscribe to “Voice of the Martyrs” newsletter and read the stories monthly of the brave Christians who will suffer torture and/or death rather than deny their Savior.[1] Give thanks to God for your freedom.

The video tells the story brilliantly. There is great narration, wonderful pictures, live interviews with their son, Mihai, and above all film footage of testimony from Richard and Sabina. The Wurmbrands relate the horror of their experiences at the same time as they praise God for seeing them through the torture. Their testimony is a wonderful inspiration to all. Both Richard and Sabina were able to show the love of Christ in the ultimate way – by forgiving their torturers.

Here is some background to the story:

Sabina Oster Wurmbrand was born on July 10, 1913 in Czernowitz in what was then called the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today her country is known as Romania.

Sabina was born into a Jewish family. She was very intelligent. After graduating from high school in Czernowitz she attended the Sorbonne in Paris where she studied languages.

In 1936, at the age of 23, she met Richard Wurmbrand who was also born in a Jewish family. Richard and Sabina were soon married. In their early lives they sought to live the high life. They were virtually atheists. God was nowhere on their radar screens.

Then a miracle happened. While spending time in the mountains of Romania they came to Christ. They joined the Anglican church. Richard eventually was ordained as an Anglican minister. They were both on fire for Christ and began a successful ministry witnessing for Christ in Romania.

During WWII Sabina’s Jewish parents, two sisters, and one brother were killed in Nazi concentration camps. Richard and Sabina rescued many Jewish children from the ghettos where the Nazi’s were forcing the Jews to live. They also spent a lot of time in underground bomb shelters teaching the Bible.

They had a son, Mihai (Michael) during this time.

At the end of WWII the Russians poured into Eastern European countries. They forced everyone into communism. The communists took control of the churches and attempted to use them for propaganda purposes. They organized a “Congress of Cults.” Many religious leaders attended including Richard and Sabina. One by one the religious leaders began to swear loyalty to the communists. They praised the communists even though they knew that religion was really being repressed.

“Richard and Sabina were disgusted by the actions of their fellow leaders. Sabina said, ‘Richard, stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ.’ Richard replied, ‘If I do, you’ll lose your husband.’ But Sabina said what Richard knew in his heart: ‘I don’t wish to have a coward as a husband.’ Richard stood up in front of the four thousand delegates as so many had done before him. But instead of praising communism, he bravely declared that the church’s duty is to glorify God and Christ alone.”[2]

Then on February 29, 1948, Richard was arrested by the secret police and put into solitary confinement. He was tortured for many years in the prison, but he didn’t let his time go to waste. He found a way, using Morse code, to communicate the Gospel to other prisoners.

Sabina was also arrested and spent three years in prison, leaving Mihai, now nine years old, homeless. Sabina worked on the Danube Canal project doing slave labor. During this time she was also tortured by being made to stand continually in a small room. No bigger than a closet, the walls had spikes on them so Sabina could not even lean over for comfort.

Eventually Sabina was released. Authorities told her that Richard was dead. This wasn’t true. Richard was being moved around from prison to prison all the while suffering horrible torture.

During this time Sabina carried on the ministry. She shared the Gospel and gave away bibles whenever she could.

After about 8 years a Christian doctor contrived Richard’s release. Imagine how happy Sabina and Mihai were to see him! He was warned not to preach. This did not stop the Wurmbrands. They just went back to the underground church and continued their ministry.

In 1959 Richard was betrayed by an associate who accused him of preaching against communism. Richard was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. This time the captors used psychological torture as well as physical torture.

Sabina was told that Richard had died, but this time she didn’t believe it. Shae carried on their work believing that God was with them.

In 1964, hearing about his illegal treatment, Western countries began to put political pressure on the communists to release Richard. The Norwegian Mission to the Jews negotiated with the Romanian government to release Sabina and Richard for $10,000. The Wurmbrands left the country so that they could be a voice for the persecuted church in the West.

In 1967 Sabina and Richard formed an organization to help the persecuted church; they called it “Jesus to the Communist World”. Later it became a world wide organization and the named it “The Voice of the Martyrs.” It is still active today. My husband and I give financial support and I strongly recommend that every Christian should give something out of thanksgiving for our freedom in the United States. There are still many thousands of Christians being persecuted around the world. You can go to this site:


After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Richard and Sabina were finally able to return to Romania. They were happy to be able to do more for the Christians there. The new mayor of Bucharest offered to let them use the basement of the palace of the former dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, to store bibles. This was the same building where Richard had been housed in solitary confinement for three years. They continued to be a voice for the helpless for many years.

Sabina went to be with the Lord in 2000. Richard followed his beloved, wise, and strong companion in 2001.







[1] Go to their website and sign up: https://www.persecution.com


[2] From “Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand: Founders of Voice of the Martyrs”, http://www.plough.com/en/topics/faith/witness/richard-and-sabina-wurmbrand



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Amy Carmichael: Mother to the Motherless

Produced by Christian History Institute

Distributed by Vision Video

58 minutes in length, with a special 29-minute abridged version, Spanish language and English and Spanish subtitles.



This is one of the most moving videos I have ever seen. Amy Carmichael’s life has always been an inspiration to me. In this production, the story is beautifully told with photographs and drawings. Narrators include:

– Jonathan Clarke, pastor of the Welcome Church, established by Amy in Belfast
– Margaret Holland of the Dohnavur Fellowship
– Dr. Nancy Robbins, who nursed Amy during her final years of illness
– Elisabeth Eliot, who considers Amy Carmichael as a chief influence in her life also adds commentary.

The story is told well and doesn’t need much background or introduction, but here are some notes to share with others. This video would be great for any Bible study or Sunday School class for adults and especially children!!

One of the truly great, faithful missionaries of recent times was Amy Carmichael. Amy was born in the small village of Millisle in Northern Ireland, December 16, 1867, to devout Presbyterian parents, David and Catherine Carmichael. She was the oldest of seven children. In many ways she was an unlikely candidate for missionary work. She suffered neuralgia, a disease of the nerves that made her whole body weak and achy and often put her in bed for many weeks at a time. Her friends thought that she was foolish for wanting to go on the mission field. They didn’t think she would be able to take the strain for very long, but Amy was certain that God was calling her to go overseas.

Amy was a bright child, but a bit rambunctious. God would use this strong personality in His plans for Amy’s work on the mission field. She always went to God in prayer first, but then proceeded to do whatever it took to accomplish her task.

Influences in her life:
Her father died when she was young. She helped her mother care for her siblings.

Amy worked among the female millworkers sharing Christ with them.

Robert Wilson, founder of the Keswick Convention, cared for her during one of her bouts of neuralgia. He helped her to go to Japan as one of the first missionaries sponsored by the Keswick’s. She left there due to illness.

Amy searched for another missionary opportunity. With the help of the Zenana Missionary society she went to India.

Amy worked with the poor children. When she heard about the temple children she tried to find a way to get into the temples. She put on a sari and stained her skin brown so that she could pass as a Hindu. This was a bold move, but definitely in line with her stubborn and adventurous personality. God had made her this way, and she was up to the task.



Amy knew that the Lord was in charge of her life. She nearly went to prison for the rescue, considered a “kidnapping” in India, of one young girl. Amazingly, the case was dismissed. God was protecting and working through this faithful woman.

After thirty years of work among her beloved adopted people, she went on to found a place of safety for the young children in India. The organization she founded was known as the Dohnavur Fellowship. Dohnavur is situated in Tamil Nadu, just thirty miles from the southern tip of India. She rescued more than one thousand children who would otherwise have faced an uncertain, but probably dismal future. She desired to build a hospital as well. The hospital she founded is still there today and works with the aged people in India. There is also a school for the mentally and physically disabled.

In 1931, Amy was badly injured in a fall, which left her bedridden much of the time until her death. Even when she became old and infirm, she would praise God for her circumstances, because it would give her a chance to pray and write books and poetry. Prayer was the center of her life, and she became a great spiritual witness for thousands of others.

Amy Carmichael died in India in 1951 at the age of 83, after twenty years of being bedridden. Many people in such trials might complain to God about their illnesses. But Amy had learned to trust God in whatever circumstance He put in her life. Though she longed to be working among her people, she allowed God to use her where He put her. She did not waste time feeling sorry for herself. Many people were inspired by her cheerfulness and kind words. She used the time to write over thirty books, and now many people can be blessed by her work, thanks to her faithfulness and love for Christ.

“He hath never failed thee yet.Never will His love forget.O fret not thyself nor let Thy heart be troubled,Neither let it be afraid.”                                        Amy Carmichael




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“Hildegard: One of the Most Remarkable Women of the Middle Ages”
Distributed by: Vision Video
52 minutes.

Hildegard was an astonishing woman who left us her remarkable legacy in books, drawings, songs, and plays. Her works are beautiful and lasting. They have also stood the test of time because of the spiritual comfort that they still bring to thousands today.

The setting of the video is at the monastery of St. Disibod on the Rhine in central Germany. The events portrayed are those leading up to Hildegard’s examination and trial for heresy in 1148. Hildegard cared for people the way she believed Jesus would care for them. The abbot, concerned only with his legalistic rules, disagreed with the way Hildegard cared for these people and put her and the abbey under interdict – a punishment. They were commanded not to sing. They could not receive the sacraments. Hildegard did not back down. Eventually she lodged a protest with the superior of the Abbot. A trial was held where she was completely vindicated.

Later in a vision Hildegard realizes it is time to move. The video ends with Hildegard and the nuns and their priest making the move to Bingen where she would found a monastery. There, Hildegard continued her labors until her death in 1179 at the age of 82.

This production of Hildegard’s life includes illustrations in a beautiful and stunning fashion that portray what some of Hildegard’s visions may have looked like. They are based on Hildegard’s drawings in the Scivia. A group of nuns (female actors with beautiful voices?) perform some of Hildegard’s music. You will be uplifted as you hear the praises to God sung by these women.



Some background before you watch the video:

Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179) is best known as a twelfth-century abbess with an extraordinary mind and she is known for her visions. Whatever one thinks about the subject of visions and dreams, certainly Hildegard was a wise, talented, intelligent, dedicated, and devout Christian woman who rose above her circumstances to serve God in extraordinary ways. She has been authenticated by the pope in her day (Eugene III) and recently by Pope Benedict.

Hildegard became a nun while just a young girl. We do not know much about her next few years, except that she must have been a good assistant to the mother of the abbey who was also her aunt, Jutta. When her aunt died in 1136, Hildegard was chosen to be the abbess in her place. Hildegard was thirty-eight years old.

As the mother of the abbey Hildegard sought to lead a life of holiness and to encourage the other nuns to do likewise. Of major importance to her was caring for the poor as Jesus did. Though she tried to stay within the church’s rules sometimes she went her own way out of compassion. In the video you will see two incidents that were typical of how Hildegard cared for the humans under her protection – a young persecuted girl that she rescued, and a dying soldier from the Crusades. The abbot wanted to just toss these people out as heretics, but Hildegard showed them the love of Jesus.

Later Hildegard moved to a place where she could run the abbey without interference from less than spiritual men who only loved control. She personally oversaw the construction of the new convent at Rupertsberg, near Bingen, Germany. They moved into the new convent in 1150, and she became known as Hildegard of Bingen.

One of her many talents was writing. Around 1141, she had begun to write a book, Scivias, (or Sciens Vias, “Know the Way”), which eventually took her ten years to complete. This book included 26 drawings of things that she had seen in her visions.

You will see some of these drawings and visions illustrated in the video. She claimed that these visions helped her to understand the Old and New Testaments. Men and women of her day, including the well-known Bernard of Clairvaux, endorsed her visions. Many believed that she could understand the past, present, and future. She astonished people by claiming things which later came true.

Here in her own words is a description of one of her visions:

It happened in the year 1141 of the Incarnation of God’s Son Jesus Christ, when I was forty-two years and seven months old, that the heavens were opened and a fiery light of great brilliance came and suffused my whole brain and set my whole heart and breast afire like a flame – yet not burning but warming, as the sun warms an object on which it sheds its rays. And suddenly I came to understand the meaning of the book of Psalms, the Gospel, and the other canonical books of both the Old and New Testaments — … in a marvelous way, I had sensed the power and mystery of secret, wonderful visions in myself from girlhood, from the age of five, even to the present time.”   

After Scivias, Hildegard wrote other books, including the Book of Life’s Merits, and the Book of the Divine Works. She wrote these in Latin, the language of educated men, even though she had not been formally trained in it.

Many people sought Hildegard’s wisdom. Archbishop Philip of Cologne was repeating what many Christians thought when he said that Hildegard had divine gifts including the gift of prophecy.

During her lifetime, Hildegard composed over 70 vocal works. In the 1980’s they were rediscovered and many have now been recorded. She had composed the music and the lyrics. Her works show her love and her longing for Christ.

When she was about sixty years old, retirement age for many people today, Hildegard undertook several preaching tours. As she traveled around, she even preached to men, a fact which shows how much respect she had gained by this time. Her sermons sound much like many we hear today; she taught on the corruption of the Church and how it needed cleansing. She gave a tongue lashing to those who were “lukewarm and sluggish” in living the Christian life. She berated those who were slow in justice for the poor.

Hildegard died at age eighty-two on September 17, 1179. With her lifelong learning and perseverance, she overcame many obstacles for women in her day. She had seized the opportunities placed before her and worked to her limits. She became one of the most influential women of the Middle Ages and is still loved today.


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