VATICAN CITY (Catholic News Service) -- Although she was never canonized, St. Hildegard of Bingen is to be added to the Catholic Church's formal list of saints, and Catholics worldwide may celebrate her feast day with a Mass and special readings by order of Pope Benedict XVI.
The Vatican announced May 10 that the pope formalized the church's recognition of the 12th-century German Benedictine mystic, "inscribing her in the catalogue of saints." The same day, the pope advanced the sainthood causes of 19th-century U.S. Bishop Frederic Baraga of Marquette, Mich., and of Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, a member of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth in Convent Station, N.J., who died in 1927. The Pope's order regarding St. Hildegard recognizes her widespread fame of holiness and the that Catholics have venerated her for centuries.
In a 2010 series of audience talks about women's contributions to the church, Pope Benedict dedicated two talks to St. Hildegard. He said she is a worthy role model for Catholics today because of "her love for Christ and his church, which was suffering in her time, too, and was wounded also then by the sins of priests and laypeople." In St. Hildegard's time, there were calls for radical reform of the church to fight the problem of abuses made by the clergy, the pope had said. However, she "reproached demands to subvert the very nature of the church" and reminded people that "a true renewal of the ecclesial community is not achieved so much with a change in the structures as much as with a sincere spirit of penitence."