María Eugenia Gόngora, Predicación y herejía en el epistolario de Hildegard von Bingen [Hildegard of Bingen’s Epistolary: Preaching Against Heresy]
Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) wrote several letters related to the main themes of her preachings pronounced in several towns and monasteries during the 1160s, advocating for the reform of the clergy; many of these letters were reinterpreted after her death. Purpose of this essay is to analyse these letters in the context of the campaign against the so-called “Cathars” promoted by religious men and women of her entourage. In these documents, Hildegard describes the seemingly devout appearance and mores of various contemporary dissident groups of men and women, some of whom were condemned and burned at the stake. Significantly, however, she explicitly disagrees with their execution and, moreover, she never calls them “cathars”, the name given to these groups by her contemporary Egbert of Schönau. Instead, she names them “sadducei”, who were the enemies of Jesus in the Gospel narratives, or simply “errantes homines”. It is probably the indeterminacy of their description and naming, which allowed for the new interpretations of Hildegard’s letters in the following centuries, and for her reputation as a visionary and a prophet.
Keywords: Hildegard of Bingen – Letters – Preaching – Heretical groups – Prophecy