(active c. 1180)

Prayer Book of Hildegard of Bingen

c. 1180
Manuscript, 159 x 103 mm
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich

The best-known religious woman of the twelfth century was Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). She joined the double monastery of Disibodenberg in the Rhineland as a child and became the abbess of its community of nuns. In 1147 she experienced a vision that caused her to leave Disibodenberg and set up her own community, solely of nuns, at Rupertsberg near Bingen in the Rhineland.Hildegard was a cultured woman of wide learning: she composed music, was a prodigious letter-writer and wrote texts on medicine and herbalism. However, she was best known in her time for her visions, which were set down in writing and illustrated by the nuns of her community. The two books of Hildegard's visions are entitled Know the Ways of God (lost since 1945) and The Book of Divine Works.

This illustration, a coloured ink drawing, representing The Feeding of the Five Thousand, is from a manuscript named the Prayer Book of Hildegard of Bingen as identified by a later inscription in the book. However, her ownership of the book is questioned. The manuscript is thought to have been made in the Middle Rhine region. This richly decorated manuscript was intended to serve the private devotions of a woman of high rank.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.