Alive with the Sound of Hildegard!

The Cherry Creek District in Denver was “alive with the Sound of Hildegard!”
What a joy it was to share Hildegard’s Journey Through The Senses: A Traveling Exhibit with the Creator Mundi Gallery last week. I remember thinking as we were driving the exhibit down to Denver last Tuesday, “How is this ever going to fit in this small little store?” Well it fit like a charm and looked like it belonged there. Dave Darling and the entire Creator Mundi staff were so gracious and supportive. I especially loved how the image of Hildegard healing the blind boy found a special spot on the top shelf. The model of Rupertsberg shown like the Sun in the display window.

My presentation on Saturday was truly a delight. We had chairs for 35 people and another twenty folks or so found a seat on the stairs or stood on the balcony. I started the presentation with Hildegard’s O Viridissima Virga. David and I practiced singing it with him accompanying me on my Tibetan Singing Bowl. As the spirituality of the East met the spirituality of the West, I then shared the story of my journey with Hildegard and took the audience through all the pieces of the Exhibit. To close the presentation I invited everyone present to join me in singing Hildegard’s Kyrie. Oh my, did we sound BEAUTIFUL! Hildegard was smiling.

To close the event, the owner of Creator Mundi (whom we fondly call Hildegard of Denver!) presented me with the drawing (right) of Hildegard. As I then watched people enjoying the heart wine and nerve cookies (the two remedies that are part of the exhibit) and answered more questions, I rejoiced at the love and connection we had created thanks to this magnificent Hildegard of Bingen, recently named the fourth female Doctor of the Church!

In Viriditas!


The Denver Post Oct. 10, 2012: St. Hildegard, newest church doctor, inspires the faith for 800 years.

By Electra Draper, The Denver Post, 10/9/12.

Saints alive — St. Hildegard of Bingen, a Benedictine nun who lived in medieval Germany, speaks loudly and clearly 800 years later to a Boulder playwright and musician. The 12th-century mystic and scholar has been Jeannine Goode-Allen’s muse and spiritual guide for almost three decades. Goode-Allen has celebrated Hildegard’s works with a play, architectural models, stained glass, an herbal laboratory, a tap dance and other works. Much of it will be on display Oct. 16-20 in a Denver exhibit, “Hildegard’s Journey Through the Senses,” at Creator Mundi Gallery.

The power to inspire and teach Catholics for centuries after death is one mark of a saint, and Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday elevated Hildegard to the rarest of saintly company — naming her and St. John of Avila as two of only 35 doctors of the church in 2,000 years.

A church doctor’s writings and other works are considered of universal importance to Catholics. Benedict has called Hildegard “perennially relevant” and “an authentic teacher of theology and a profound scholar of natural science and music.”

Hildegard joins the ranks of St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bede the Venerable and other giants of Catholicism, including three other women — all named since 1970.

Goode-Allen expects Hildegard will inspire her for the rest of her life.

“There’s no end to Hildegard,” she said. “You can go deeper and deeper.”

For Goode-Allen, who grew up Catholic, Hildegard proved to be the answer to questions about her own place in the Church. She once took her list of concerns to theologian Matthew Fox, then a Catholic priest — later expelled from the Dominican Order in 1993 for some unorthodox beliefs by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now the pope.

“I had so many questions that weren’t getting answered. Where do I fit in as a woman — and all those 20-something questions,” she said. “All the questions I had came out of my mouth.”

Fox’s short response to Goode-Allen: “Forget the hierarchy. Do you know Hildegard of Bingen?”

On Hildegard, even the pope and Fox can agree. She is said to be one of Benedict’s personal favorites.

“One of the first things that drew me to her is that she lived to be 81 in the 12th century,” Goode-Allen said. “She started having visions at age 3. She had this beautiful, artistic sense in everything she did. She built monasteries. She was an abbess. She composed music. She healed thousands of people using the plants, minerals and the healing capacity of the natural world. And everybody listened to her — peasants, the emperor, the pope.”

When Goode-Allen joined a choir, she found that Hildegard’s compositions — music and lyrics — had a profound effect.

“When I started singing her music, things changed for me,” she said. “I had more energy. I felt more joyous. I was alive.”

For many, Hildegard represents rising above social limits placed on women. And her works reflect a reverence for the Virgin Mary and for the power of the natural world.

“As the Creator loves Creation, so Creation loves the Creator,” Hildegard wrote. “The entire world has been embraced by this kiss.God has gifted Creation with everything that is necessary.”

Hildegard and her books, letters and diverse works have shown Goode-Allen that faith makes all things possible. She calls her arts productions company “Viriditas,” an expression Hildegard made up combining Latin words to describe the greenness and vitality of nature as it reflects the divine power of God.

Goode-Allen’s multimedia musical play, “Feathers on the Breath of God,” staged last year in Boulder, is a story of a timeless connection between two women. It’s also slated to run next July 15-21 at the Bas Bleu Theatre in Fort Collins.

“I really want to help people manifest their most creative self. That’s what Hildegard so beautifully showed me how to do,” Goode-Allen said.

The Daily Camera Oct. 5, 2012: Artist inspired to keep memory alive of St. Hildegard

By Megan Quinn, The Daily Camera, 10/5/12.

Though she lived more than 900 years ago, St. Hildegard of Bingen has influenced the art and life of at least one modern-day local performer.

Jeannine Goode-Allen, a Boulder playwright and musician, has long been influenced by the work of the 12th-century saint from Germany. On Sunday, St. Hildegard will be recognized by Pope Benedict XIV as a Doctor of the Church. The recognition is rare — in the history of the Catholic Church fewer than 40 people have received the designation.

To honor the distinction and Hildegard’s continuing creative and spiritual influence, Goode-Allen will present an exhibit, “Hildegard’s Journey Through The Senses,” at

2 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Creator Mundi Gallery, 2910 E. Third Ave. in Denver. The event will include a presentation of Hildegard-inspired art, and Goode-Allen will sing traditional songs.

The exhibit also will include calligraphy, stained glass and herbal remedies, which draw from the saint’s creative influences, as well as actual recipes she used for her own healing methods. And several reproductions of Hildegard’s paintings will be on display.

The art embodies the saint’s “beauty, warmth and power,” said Goode-Allen, who noted that Hldegard’s story is unique even by today’s standards.

In years when women held no power in most of society, Saint Hildegard made a name for herself as an herbalist, healer, writer, artist and religious visionary. She became prioress of her monastery in Germany, then started her own when more and more women became interested in the Benedictine order.

Hildegard’s followers said she had visions from a young age, and those visions eventually were made known to then-Pope Eugene III. With his blessing, Hildegard traveled to spread the word about her spiritual visions.

Goode-Allen said some of Hildegard’s letters still survive. The letters, she said, paint Hildegard as not only a powerful spiritual leader but as a kind, gentle woman who helped guide people through faith and healing.

“There was always a message of hope,” Goode-Allen said.

Hildegard was well-loved even after her death, said Dave Darling of the Creator Mundi Gallery, where Goode-Allen will perform. The gallery has a special love of Hildegard’s writings, said Darling, and the gallery owner, Hildegard Letbetter, was named after the saint.

Hildegard of Bingen was not granted sainthood until earlier this year, said Darling, “after her death (in 1179), people already began to call her a saint.”

Hildegard was an inspirational figure to many, including Goode-Allen, who says much of her artistic side is influenced by Hildegard.

Goode-Allen said she discovered Hildegard’s story as she struggled with her own religious beliefs in her 20s. She received a piece of monumental advice when she met Matthew Fox, a former Catholic priest and theologian who is now a member of the Episcopal church:

“Forget about the Vatican. Go find Hildegard.”

Goode-Allen said she was so inspired by Hildegard’s life and multifaceted talents that she felt her own health and faith improving. And aftter reading about the saint’s accomplishments, Goode-Allen developed a can-do perspective on life.

“It even inspired me to take up tap dancing,” she laughed. “If Hildegard could travel and preach well into her 60s, I can go out and buy a pair of tap shoes.”

Goode-Allen also performs a multimedia work titled, “Feathers on the Breath of God,” which tells Hildegard’s story through song, monologues and multiple projection screens that serve as backdrops.

“Her main message to me,” Goode-Allen said, “was that someone who has faith can be inspired to do anything.”