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This is a self-portrait of medieval St. Hildegard of Bingen. It is from Liber Scivias (Know the Ways), one of her theological books which explain her mystic visions. Some of the other illustrations are deeply complex, but this is clearer. Even so, all the details suggest a meaning. She is a cloistered nun, an Abbess, and the Holy Spirit has descended upon her like tongues of fire. She is within the Church; by implication, orthodox and under its protection. The man is the scribe, probably a priest or a monk, who she is dictating to. Besides being who he is, he represents the rest of us. He is within her “cell,” sharing her work; she is sharing her vision with the whole Church.
Even the footstool has a tradition in ancient Catholic art. Pictures of the Church Fathers, when they are seated, composing, often have a footstool. We are pretty sure this suggests not simply a creature comfort of the writer—which would not have been the concern of the artist—but a detachment from this world. For thousands of years, Christian art has tended to be didactic, not wasting visual elements.
The original illustration was lost in World War II. But according to Sr. Maura Zátonyi OSB, a Benedictine nun in the Abbey of St. Hildegard in Eibingen and one of the world’s leading experts on St. Hildegard, the copy is “miraculous” and “gives an accurate impression of the original, especially with regard to the variety of colors.”
We print it on special art paper with archival quality pigments, rated to last for many generations without fading when kept out of the direct sun.
Standard size. If you would like us to frame it for you, please select a frame above, under "Framing".
– 8.5 x 11" acid-free paper
– Archival pigments, rated to last for generations.
– Cardboard backer
– Above story of the art
– Enclosed in a tight-fitting, crystal clear bag.
** IMPORTANT ** There is about an inch-and-a-third of white space around the picture, so the image is smaller than the paper.
Sue & John