A Closer Look: Revelations Of Medieval Saint Seem To Point To North America
By Michael H. Brown
Was a 12th-century nun who issued dramatic prophecies legitimate? And did she really make predictions pertinent to the U.S.? Did she predict future calamity?
We speak here of the Abbess of Rupertsberg, better known as St. Hildegard, whose prophecies we linked to a few weeks ago. According to Butler's Lives of the Saints, Hildegard, an outspoken, fearless mystic, was never officially canonized -- though miracles were reported at her tomb and she was listed as a saint in the official Roman Martyrology.
Perhaps more pertinent is the fact that ecclesiastic officials of her time believed she was legitimate. When Hildegard opened up to her confessor (a monk named Godfrey) -- and authorized him to refer the matter to his abbot, Conon -- the abbot ordered Hildegard, who in addition to being a nun and mystic was a physician and poet, to write down her messages. They were then submitted to the archbishop of Mainz -- who examined them with a team of theologians and pronounced them "visions from God."
That was followed by the writing of a major book, Scrivias, that centered on 26 visions, and while many of them had to do with Creation, Redemption, and the Church, they were mixed with apocalyptic prophecies, as were subsequent letters [see one purported text].
"Her revelations and visions pressed more and more upon her," notes Butler's. "There was a continual interior urging that she should write them down, but she feared what people would say, their mockery, and her own inadequate Latin. But the Voice of God seemed to say to her: 'I am the living and inaccessible Light, and I enlighten whomever I will."
Were the letters and prophecies legitimate? And again: did they pertain to something coming for the U.S.?
Toward apocalyptic times, Hildegard is quoted as saying, "mankind will be purified through sufferings. This will be true especially of the clergy, who will be robbed of all property."
A "powerful wind" shall rise in the north, Hildegard wrote.
There would "the densest dust by divine command."
Most jarring was what the German mystic had to say (reportedly) about a comet. "The great nation in the ocean that is inhabited by people of different tribes and descent will be devastated by an earthquake, storm, and tidal waves," she purportedly said. That would precede arrival of a devastating comet.
It's hard not to think of the "great nation in the ocean" as America -- which from space, or from the vantage point of the Old World, is out here between two oceans. It is certainly a "great" nation in the way that the Roman Empire was great; it is certainly a melting pot for ethnic groups ("people of different tribes and descent"); and even hardnosed astronomers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been sounding the alarm about the potential for a comet or asteroid (which they say would cause massive disturbances -- including tidal waves).
"The comet, by its tremendous pressure, will force much out of the ocean and flood many countries, causing much want and many plagues," one text purporting to be Hildegard's prophecy asserts. "After the great comet, the great nation will be devastated by earthquakes, storms, and great waves of water."
We don't know what to think of that. We know we have to be on guard against overly dramatic prophecy -- and we know we're not to be obsessed with calamity. We can change things. We can still pray our way out of it. And no matter what comes, with prayer we can protect our loved ones.
But we also know that the trend of going to the opposite extreme -- of ignoring all thoughts of chastisement, of dismissing prophecy, of going on with our sensual lifestyle -- has brought the world to a free-wheeling evil that now poses a very real (and perhaps even apocalyptic) threat. At the least, we are to heed warnings. They come both through prophecy and nature. In 1989, a cosmic boulder carrier missed earth by a mere six hours -- and astronomers did not even see it coming. Such an asteroid only half-a-mile wide could send a 35-foot wave over every coastline (with a more recent estimate putting the figure higher).
But back to Hildegard: Were not some of her prophecies overly dramatic? She prophesied that the sea coast cities would be fearful. She prophesied the arrival of the anti-christ. She fretted the coming of a time when "most living creatures will be killed" (this more than eight centuries ago, just before bubonic plague).
Did her prophecies -- especially those pertaining to Church corruption -- relate to the Middle Ages, when there was a similar crisis? Did it refer to the later French Revolution (when a flurry of mystics rehashed some of Hildegard's predictons)? Or could it only pertain to something as yet in the future, in that it focused on arrival of the "anti-christ"?
It's not clear which were contained in Scrivias and which came in the form of letters (some of which may be bogus, with authenticity nearly impossible to establish). We know only that the pope of her time, Blessed Eugenius III, received a favorable report on her main work from a commission (as well as from advisers such as St. Bernard of Clairvaux) and sent Hildegard -- St. Hildegard -- a note expressing "wonder and happiness at the favors granted her by heaven."
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