Happy Hildegard day

‘A feather on the breath of God.’

Whenever I think of Hildegard of Bingen (whose feast day we celebrate today) I think of that phrase. A feather on the breath of God.  I don’t know where it comes from, other than it is the name of an album of her music. But it must come from somewhere else. Anyone know? What is a feather on the breath of God?

6 thoughts on “Happy Hildegard day

  1. Comes from her own writings,

    “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 honour. 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.”

    I’m being side-tracked by the Stigmata of St Francis, today though, and will remember Hildegarde tomorrow!

  2. And the feather idea is a wonderful metaphor for plainsong, wafting about seemingly without effort or even the will of the singers – if they’re up to it, of course.

  3. There is another feather somewhere in the Conferences of Cassian, the great 4th century monastic writer (massive book recently done into English for the first time as an integral text – the Victorians left the sex bits out…). Hildegard would have read him. Feather = us; breath = H. Spirit; feather only takes off if isn’t damp which = sin. Therefore we have to take a spritual hairdryer to ourselves so that we can fly, and thus Cassian was accused of semi-Pelagianism. But they keep him as a saint in Marseilles!
    One wonders if all that holy water flying about in your church might dampen some otherwise flying feathers?

  4. Steve, those pesky Victorians, huh? I like the sound of Cassian and I always had a soft spot for Pelagius. Thank you for your contribution. Loving the whole feather thing.

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