Throughout history, women have played an important role in the church and God’s overall plan for His kingdom. Through the missionary efforts of women, God has expanded Christianity. Writings from Christian women, especially during the Middle Ages, have given us a “fuller expression of theology.” History shows us the unique and crucial contribution women have made to the church. For the next two days, we will discuss four Christian women who made an impact for Jesus during the Middle Ages. While there are many women we could discuss, we will focus on Hildegard of Bingen, Bridget of Sweden, Julian of Norwich, and Catherine of Siena.
Women and the Church
Hildegard of Bingen
Hildegard was a German abbess (the head of a community of nuns) who lived from 1098 to 1179. She founded and led a monastic community in Bingen, Germany. Her writings challenged followers of Christ to a more profound spiritual life. She had a great interest in science and wrote texts on medicine. Her love for music led her to compose seventy liturgical songs. All of these songs came from a heart to sing praises to the Lord. Search for her online and listen to her music today!
Clearly, God gifted Hildegard with many amazing talents and interests. She did not idly sit by wasting her gifts but rather used them to bring glory to God and encourage His followers. When the church needed reform, she called for it. She wrote words of wisdom to kings, emperors, and bishops, and they respected her opinion. Hildegard’s contributions to the monastic community and society are a great example of how the church can be positively involved with learning and knowledge that points to Jesus, instead of being ignorant or idolizing knowledge. When we in the church are ignorant, we do not utilize the brains God has given us to know Him and make Him known. And when we idolize knowledge, we are capable of forgetting our first love, Jesus.
Bridget of Sweden
Bridget was a devoted, caring, and selfless follower of Christ who lived from 1303 to 1373.She married at age thirteen and proceeded to have eight children. Her legacy is known in the following ways.
First, Bridget accepted Jesus’ call to help those in need by caring for the poor and the sick. Second, influenced by a vision from the Lord, Bridget founded a monastery. Third, upon a trip to Rome during the Great Papal Schism (discussed earlier in the week), Bridget expressed her support for the church by calling the pope to return to Rome from Avignon. Fourth, Bridget advocated for church reform and spoke out against corruption within the church. Fifth, Bridget was known for her dramatic writings about Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist. Whether it was her eight children, the poor, the sick, those involved in the monastery or the wayward church, Bridget always seemed to focus on those around her.
If you could speak to Hildegard and Bridget today, what would you ask them? How are you encouraged and challenged by your spiritual sisters Hildegard and Bridget?
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