Liber Divinorum Operum

The Book of Divine Works


by St. Hildegard of Bingen

translated and introduced by Nathaniel M. Campbell
(c) The Catholic University of America Press, forthcoming

St. Hildegard of Bingen’s final and greatest visionary work was the Liber Divinorum Operum, the “Book of Divine Works.” Composed in the decade from 1163 to 1173, its ten visions are the most complex of Hildegard’s corpus, each revealing different aspects of the Work of God (opus Dei), i.e. both humankind and all creation unfolding and acting across salvation history.

In an autobiographical passage included in the Life of St. Hildegard (II.16), the Visionary Doctor describes the genesis of the work in her meditations on the Prologue to the Gospel of John. Each vision of the work elaborates the dynamic Word of God, present before and then within Creation, becoming a human being to bring the Work of God—humanity and by extension all creation—to perfection. This grand vision is the culmination of Hildegard’s entire theological project and represents her most mature formulation of themes intrinsic to her thought. These include the fundamental human vocation to understand both ourselves and all creation as the work of God, and our place as cooperative agents of that work; such rational understanding as the means to come to know our Creator and properly fulfill the work for which we were created; the relationship between humanity and the rest of creation as microcosm and macrocosm; and the eternal predestination of the incarnate Word of God irrupting into and unfolding through time, as revealed in both Scripture and the life of the Church. The scope of Hildegard’s visionary theology is both cosmic and close—reflections of God’s loving revelation of himself to humanity are both grand and utterly intimate, as the Work of God reaches from the very heart of infinity down into every smallest detail of the created world.

As a supplement to my forthcoming English translation of the full Book of Divine Works with The Catholic University of America Press (expected in 2018), you will find below a translation of its “Table of Contents” or chapter summaries (capitula). These were composed sometime in the decade after the work’s completion, likely by one of Hildegard’s close secretaries or aides, and appear as a separate set of pages inserted at the front of the Ghent manuscript of the work, which was the first fair copy made for editing. Their purpose was to introduce and frame the text, in order to prime and orient the audience for the challenging text they were about to read. They thus represent an initial reader's report of the work, executed under the auspices, if not the direct eyes, of Hildegard.(For a more detailed look at the question of their authorship, see my article in Qualelibet XXXIV.1 [Spring 2016], pp. 4-7.) They have been translated from the critical edition of the Latin text of the Liber Divinorum Operum by Albert Derolez and Peter Dronke, in CCCM 92 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1996), pp. 3-44 (cited hereafter as LDO).

Also included on this page at the beginning of each Vision’s chapter summaries are the famous illustrations of the work from the Lucca manuscript (Biblioteca Statale di Lucca, MS 1942); click on any of them to access a gallery of full-sized images. The ISHBS gratefully acknowledges the kind permission of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism to reproduce these images on this website.

Table of Contents


Part I:

Part II:

Part III:


Part I, Vision 1: Theophany of Divine Love

Liber Divinorum Operum I.1:
Theophany of Divine Love.
Biblioteca Statale di Lucca, MS 1942,
fol. 1v (early 13th-cen.)
By permission of the Ministry of Cultural
Heritage and Activities and Tourism
.
  1. The placement of the wonderful vision upon which the following work depends, and a detailed description of the divine image that appeared in it in human form, its condition and circumstances.
  2. The words of that image, by which is understood Divine Love: it calls itself the fiery life of God’s substance and tells of the manifold effects of its power amongst the various natures and qualities of creation.
  3. God has signified all creation in humankind, made in his image and likeness; and after the fall, he gathered them, renewed simply by love’s goodness through his Incarnation, into that blessedness that the fallen angel had lost; and so this is what is shown by the mystical signification of the vision just described.
  4. Devoted faith embraces the excellence of divine Love, and through this, God is understood to be One in Trinity; by the merit of that faith, God himself by his protection leads humans back to heaven.
  5. [4].[1] The love of God and of neighbor cannot be separated and is strengthened by the virtue of faith.
  6. [5]. Whoever has submitted to God with humble devotion and been set alight by the aid of the Holy Spirit overcomes both what is corrupted within themselves and the devil; the angels rejoice because of the good works of the just and praise God’s omnipotence.
  7. [6]. The universe existed in God from eternity and without localized form; as he created everything, each came forth from him distinguished in number, order, place, and time.
  8. [7]. Although they once were of great power, the devil and the angels who abandoned justice were reduced to their present state because of their ingratitude and pride, so that they can do nothing in all of creation, except insofar as it is allowed to them by the heavenly command.
  9. [8]. When people direct themselves to imitating the righteousness of their Creator and are drawn away, as it were, from bestial irrationality, they begin to shine with the brilliance of a rational nature.
  10. [9]. When God said in the Word, “Let there be light!” (Gn 1:3), the rational light, that is, the angles, was created, and in the place of those that fell from blessedness, God made another rational life and clothed it with flesh, and this is humankind, which shall attain the place and glory of the fallen.
  11. [10]. For as in the strength of his love God gathers those predestined to himself, he instructs them in certain necessary matters with the infusion of the Holy Spirit’s gifts.
  12. [11]. When the Son of God took up the nature of humanity without any blemish of sin and appeared in the flesh, he called tax collectors and sinners to repentance and justified them out of his own faith.
  13. [12-13]. The Son of God’s love crushed the devil with its Cross, and its imitation treads now under foot discord among God’s faithful, other vices, and that ancient deceiver of the human race, and reduces them to nothing.
  14. By consenting to the suggestion of the devil as he looked enviously upon them, Adam and Eve lost the glory of the heavenly garment, that is, immortality.
  15. God was merciful to them when he punished their transgression by expelling them from paradise and into this exile; and whoever should violate the marriage trust established between them [Adam and Eve] by God will be punished with grave vengeance unless they repent.
  16. In the preaching of the incarnate Son of God to the spiritual people that came forth, God’s promise to Abraham was fulfilled, because his seed is multiplied according to the number of the stars of heaven (cf. Gn 15:5).
  17. God chose the Virgin Mary for himself from the stock of Abraham, who believed and was obedient; and from her Christ was born in bodily form, who is the Founder and Guide of a new, spiritual generation.

Part I, Vision 2: The Cosmic Spheres and Human Being

Liber Divinorum Operum I.2:
The Cosmic Spheres and Human Being.
Biblioteca Statale di Lucca, MS 1942,
fol. 9r (early 13th-cen.)
By permission of the Ministry of Cultural
Heritage and Activities and Tourism
.
  1. A description of the sphere of the whole world, with its circles, celestial bodies, and winds, as it appears in the form of a wheel upon the breast of the image that was described in the first vision.
  2. For divinity has the form of a wheel, complete and whole, without beginning or end; and it is circumscribed by neither space nor time, but contains all things within itself.
  3. How in the book Scivias [I.3], the sphere of the world was shown and described in the figure of an egg, while in this one, it is in the likeness of a wheel.
  4. On the two circles of bright and black fire, and how they are placed one above the other and joined to each other; what they signify.
  5. On the circle of pure ether, which is the third circle, and what it can do in its constitution and what that signifies; and why it is of the same thickness as the two circles above.
  6. On the fourth circle, which appears in the manner of watery air; what its thickness is and what it signifies.
  7. On the circle of strong, bright white air and the reason why it holds the fifth place; what its thickness is and what it signifies; why it is joined to the circle above it, as if they were one.
  8. On the sixth circle, which seems to proceed in the likeness of thin air from the circles above; what it does in its place, and the mystical reason for its appearance.
  9. How these six circles are joined to each other without any gaps, and what is intimated by this union.
  10. The first circle inflames the others with its fire, while the fourth tempers them with its light; what this shows figuratively in us.
  11. On the line that appears upon the aforementioned wheel, stretching from the sun’s first rising to its last setting; and what mystical meaning this bears.
  12. A passage[2] from the Apocalypse, and how it ought to be understood to expound on these matters (Rv 2:17).
  13. The mass of the earth in the form of a globe within the six circles described above is set apart by an equal distance from the five upper circles, and in the middle of the sixth circle, of thin air, it is unalterably established; the signification of this.
  14. The words of Paul apply to this signification, and are to be understood in this way (Phil 2:14-16).
  15. On the image in human form appearing in the middle of the wheel, with its crown, feet, and hands stretched out to touch the circle of strong, bright white air; and what this image and its placement signifies.
  16. On the four beasts’ heads that appear in the four parts of the wheel, and what they signify for both the world and humankind.
  17. How the principal east wind appears in the manner of a leopard’s head above the head of the human image in the circle of pure ether; why it also has two collateral winds, one in the likeness of a crab’s head, the other in the image of a stag’s head.
  18. How these heads breathe into the wheel and upon the human image, and their moral signification.
  19. A passage from the Song of Songs pertaining to these matters, and how it is to be understood (Song 1:3[4]).
  20. How the principal west wind appears in the form of a wolf’s head beneath the image’s feet in the circle of the watery air; why its two collateral winds are also shown, one in the form of a stag’s head, the other of a crab’s head.
  21. How these too, like the heads above, direct their breaths upon the human image, and their moral meaning.
  22. The words of Isaiah apply to this, and ought to be taken in this way (Is 5:5-6).
  23. How the principal south wind is shown in the right part of that image, like a lion’s head in the circle of bright fire; why its two collateral winds are also seen, one in the figure of a serpent’s head, the other of a lamb’s head.
  24. How these too, like the previous heads, emit their breaths into the wheel and onto the image.
  25. One ought diligently to investigate how all of these pertain to the salvation of one’s soul and to God’s judgments that will come, leaving nothing unexamined.
  26. No faithful person ought to neglect the order of virtues, which is separated into individual parts, for the effect of virtue is to lead a person to justice and the rightness of heaven.
  27. A passage from Psalm 117 applies to this and is to be understood in this way (Ps 117[118]:16-17).
  28. How the principal north wind appears by the left side of the human image like a bearh’s head in the circle of black fire; why its two collateral winds also appear, one in the form of a lamb’s head, the other of a serpent’s head.
  29. How these too, like the heads above, turn the force of their breaths into the wheel and upon the image.
  30. The words of David in the next verse of Psalm 117 apply to this, and this is their explanation (Ps 117[118]:18).
  31. On the seven celestial bodies that appear in various circles of the wheel of the image described above, separated by intervals.[3]
  32. How those celestial bodies were arranged in the firmament by God, the Founder of the world, and what their various effective powers are.
  33. What it signifies that three of these celestial bodies are seen in the circle of bright fire, one in the space of the black fire, and the three in the course of the pure ether.
  34. Whither the first three celestial bodies direct the rays that are seen in this vision to proceed from them, and what both is signified by those celestial bodies and their rays.
  35. How in their midst the sun appears to emit more rays than the others, and what both the sun and its rays signify.
  36. Whither the three lower celestial bodies stretch their rays, and what is figured by them and their rays.
  37. Although a faithful person might excel in the virtues, they may be as if abandoned by them for a time and beaten by temptations for salvation’s sake, lest they be misled by the presumption of pride and perish.
  38. A passage from the book of Isaiah that relates to these insinuations, and how it is to be understood (Is 5:14-15).
  39. On the sixteen principal stars established in the circle of bright fire to consolidate the firmament and temper the winds, evenly spaced along the circumference of the firmament.
  40. A finite number of other stars placed in the two circles of pure ether and bright white air warm the firmament and confine the clouds, lest they transgress their boundaries.
  41. On the four blasts that appear to the right and left of the image in the manner of tongues (because of their movement), and what their purpose is.[4]
  42. The mystical and resplendent reason for the number, order, and placement of the sixteen principal stars.
  43. Again, a mystical reason for the finite multiplicity and constitution of the other common stars.
  44. Again, a mystical reason for the purpose of the four blasts that have the appearance of tongues and move around the right and left parts of the image.
  45. When any faithful person follows devoutly the footsteps of the Son of God, strengthened amidst temptations by the fortification of the virtues, they achieve the joys of heaven, as confirmed and fittingly explained by the words of Isaiah (Is 33:16-17).
  46. On the extremely bright light that proceeds in the likeness of threads from the mouth of the image that holds the wheel upon its breast, which appear to measure out the signs of that image, the wheel, and the circles shown above, and their mystical reason.
  47. The words of the prophet Jeremiah pertain to this reason and are to be understood in this way (Jer 17:10).

Part I, Vision 3: Macrocosm of Winds, Microcosm of Humors

Liber Divinorum Operum I.3:
Macrocosm of Winds, Microcosm of Humors.
Biblioteca Statale di Lucca, MS 1942,
fol. 28v (early 13th-cen.)
By permission of the Ministry of Cultural
Heritage and Activities and Tourism
.
  1. A simple collection of certain visions that touch upon the physical world, especially the upper and lower winds surrounding the firmament; the upper circle whose emissions are directed to the celestial bodies to recall them from their setting to their rising and to moderate them in their course; the humors of the human person, which receive their qualities from the air and the winds that swirl around them; the veins and inner organs of the whole human body, and how are joined and work together in their various functions; and the reasons why they sometimes fall out of their balance and moderation.
  2. All created beings serve a useful purpose no less in soul than in body; what it signifies that the east and south winds, together with their collaterals, are observed to cause the firmament to revolve from east to west.
  3. The further signification of the south wind as well as the north wind, for between the two solstices, in one half of the year the former advances from the south into the north; while in the other half of the year, the latter presses back a bit from the north into the south.
  4. What the circle that appears in the upper fire signifies, as it both girds the entire firmament and emits a wind that blows through the upper elements and tempers the course of the celestial bodies by retrograde.
  5. The words of the prophet Habakkuk fittingly declare this signification, and this is their exposition (Hab 3:19).
  6. What it signifies that the humors moved within a person are changed according to the various qualities of the winds and air that swirl around them.
  7. A passage from the Proverbs of Solomon is added to clarify this signification, and in what way it is to be understood (Prv 15:6).
  8. From the manifold changes of the winds and air, which happen either because of the varying course of the sun and moon or because of God’s judgment, a person also receives changeability and sometimes meets with variations between health and illness; and how this figures in that person’s spiritual life.
  9. Because the humors in a person are moved at one time more sharply and at another more gently, each according to the manner of a complex of certain animals or beasts, the person is affected by the changing or influence of these humors, and the thoughts within that person fluctuate with frequent variation.
  10. A person is more ready to take quick action on their right side because that is where the liver is, in which is the source of heat; but because the heart and lungs and the pulse of respiration are located on the left side, a person is more suited to bear burdens on the left; what these things also signify spiritually for that person.
  11. The words of the prophet Isaiah fittingly provide confirmation of this signification, and they are to be taken in this sense (Is 52:2-3).
  12. What it signifies in a person that the humors that are within them are strewn about the navel, which is the head of the bowels, and the loins, in which wantonness is found; they also sometimes touch the veins of the kidneys and the lower abdomen, and through these ascend to the veins of the spleen, lung, and heart.
  13. The veins of the brain, heart, and liver strengthen the kidneys, while the veins of the kidneys in turn strengthen the calves by descending to them; joined with the veins of the calves, in turn, they return to their appropriate places and confer upon each sex the powers of procreation; the upper and lower arms and the legs are also full of veins and humors; a short explication of the symbolic place of these things within the person.
  14. When a person runs and overextends the sinews and veins of their whole body, they meet with fatigue, and because of the interconnectedness and pulsing of their veins, they can be struck with a brief rush of delight; the moral and functional signification of these things within that person.
  15. On the reasons why the phlegm and humors in a person are sometimes corrupted, and that person experiences either a wasting disease or other infirmities in the body; and on the evils by which they are very much corrupted in the soul, according to the signification of these things.
  16. The words of the prophet Hosea pertain to these matters, and are to be taken in this sense (Hos 6:10).
  17. The veins of a person’s kidneys are sometimes touched by humors that have been wrongfully stirred up, and because this also strikes other veins, they can cause the bones’ marrow to dry up; and the disadvantage signified by these things overtakes also the inner person.
  18. When the humors overflow in a person’s chest, they also strike the liver and the veins of the ears and of the kidneys, which rise from the navel to the brain; these also have a spiritual signification.
  19. When the humors in a person’s body are evenly distributed and tempered, they signify also balance in the inner thoughts, as a passage explicated from the Song of Songs attests (Song 7:1).

Part I, Vision 4: Cosmos, Body, and Soul: The Word Made Flesh

Liber Divinorum Operum I.4:
Cosmos, Body, and Soul.
Biblioteca Statale di Lucca, MS 1942,
fol. 38r (early 13th-cen.)
By permission of the Ministry of Cultural
Heritage and Activities and Tourism
.
  1. In one chapter are briefly contained various visions of the firmament and what its thickness is, together with all the things that are attached to it; of the difficulties from some circles and how they are repelled and tempered by the opposition of others; and of the milky zone that appears in the image of a curved bow.
  2. God, the Creator of all things, strengthens the lower elements by the upper ones, and also cleanses sinners by them in punishment; what the density of the firmament and the uniform balance of the earth signify in the human person.
  3. Again on the firmament fittingly arranged by its Founder for certain functions with fire, ether, water, the stars, and the winds; where the spark-like scales come from that fall from the bright fire of the uppermost circle and injure both the earth and it inhabitants; what this means for inner retribution.
  4. The black fire contained within the second circle is stirred up either by God’s judgment or by the collision of the winds and emits a mist that withers what is green upon the earth, as its perils are sometimes in heat and sometimes in downpours from the clouds; what this signifies.
  5. The circle of pure ether tempers those above and below with its pleasantness and resists the first circle’s scales and the second circle’s mist, lest they harm the earth excessively; what the function and signification are of the vapor that comes forth from the waters above when they are boiled by the celestial fire.
  6. On the pestilential mist that stretches down from the circle of strong white air to the earth, and where it comes from; the thickness of the watery air resists it lest it become harmful beyond measure, and humans only meet with such blows by God’s judgment; what all these things signify.
  7. On the moisture that comes forth from the thin air and what its function is; drops of rain are turned into snow by the upper cold, and the thin air defends the earth against the upper elements and makes it fecund.
  8. How the clouds in that air, controlled by both the fire and the cold from above, appear sometimes bright and sometimes shadowy, and how they pour forth the rain expressed as from breasts not suddenly but slowly; and what this signifies in us.
  9. On the cloud that is called milky, which strengthens the air by embracing it within its extension and curvature; and what this signifies.
  10. The words of Job accord with this, and are to be taken in this sense (Jb 17:9).
  11. For the human person—empowered by God as the image of that very firmament—ought always and attentively to consider both God and his works, because God made the human person a rational creature, the greatest among all creatures, to recognize and glorify him.
  12. For God sealed the beauty of his works in the first angel, and to show that hell is in the fourth part of the world, i.e. the north, he left it void of light, while the other three parts are illumined by the presence of the sun and moon; darkness is disclosed because of the flash of light, while light is the more graceful because of the contrast of darkness.
  13. On the pride and puffery of the first angel and his followers against God, and their plunge into the place of darkness; and the shout of the blessed angels denouncing them.
  14. Because God maintained from eternity in the secrecy of his counsel that he would become Man, he made Man in his own image and likeness (Gn 1:26), ever to fight against the devil (who cannot comprehend this mystery) and to obtain the devil’s place; in the human person—composed of soul, bones, and flesh—he recapitulated all created parts of the greater world.
  15. How the outer appearance or form of the human person corresponds to the soul with respect to its inner progress or failure.
  16. In their constitutions the firmament and human person received a manifold similarity from God their Maker,[5] and what is demonstrated by this in the human soul.
  17. For in the human head the three upper circles of the firmament, together with the two that come in between them,[6] are defined across three equal spans from the top of the skull to the throat; how the thickness of those circles is signified by that equal spacing along the circumference of the head, and how these things are also fitted in signification to the powers of the soul.
  18. A description of the particular measurements that are found in the human lips, ears, shoulders, and throat, and how the inner person ought with respect to them to engage themselves in the work of God and repentance. The wicked and impenitent spirits are utterly confused because they cannot tear repentance away from humankind.
  19. On two powers of the soul: one takes pleasure in what looks toward God; the other engages its body to bring it to life and govern it.
  20. The words of David, and the sense in which they ought to be received, as pertains to the various experiences of soul and body (Ps 16[17]:8-9).
  21. As the earth’s functions are fulfilled by the firmament and the various qualities of its circles, so too the entire body is directed by the head and the senses that are most alert within it; and following these, to the soul are attributed something fundamental, i.e. reason,[7] by which it strives for the things of heaven, and the other powers, by which it administers the body.
  22. On the intervals between and supplemental cooperation of the seven celestial bodies, and how the celestial bodies are equidistantly divided by the seven spaces from the top of the human brain to edge of the forehead; and how with respect to these the soul ought to exercise itself and its body as it exists with the five senses, according to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit in good dispositions and good works.
  23. Because the human brain is divided into three chambers and administers sensibility to the entire body, it holds the place of the sun, which shines throughout the three parts of the world, strengthens all things that are on the earth by tempering and warming them, and also enkindles the moon with its fire.
  24. In the same way, when with its powers the soul both governs its body and worships one God in Trinity, it seems to act as if in imitating that celestial body, either during the day or in turn at night, as at one time, strengthened and uplifted by the spirit of fortitude (which the sun signifies), it gleams with the light of holy works, but at another it is darkened as it succumbs to the lustful desires of the flesh.[8]
  25. As all the body’s veins administer heat to the brain as it draws its moisture from the inner organs, so too the upper circles assist the sun—which sometimes pours forth dew and rain—with their fires, lest it decay in its heat; likewise what types of harmony and dissonance are to be found between soul and flesh.
  26. As the brain and intestines require purgation when they overflow with humors, so too in the autumn season the air and earth seem to be purged in certain places—the former through long, congealed threads, the latter through a foul foam; in the same way, the flesh assents to being dried out of its sexual secretion[9] and the soul to being expiated by the labor of repentance.
  27. For the brain’s vessel holds the place of the upper fire that enkindles the sun, and the moisture of the watery air grants moderation to that sun’s heat and a boundary to its course, lest it incinerate the things that lie below it; how likewise the soul, placed beneath God’s authority and judgment and appointed to itself by rationality, ought to govern both itself and its body with discretion.
  28. As the brain’s blackness, congealed from heat and moisture, spreads phlegm and bruising to the human body, so too the black fire, which is in the second circle, induces storms and lightning in the world, and in this way, too, when the soul is corrupted by exaltation and the flesh by lustful desires, they contend in various conflicts by opposing, the one against the other.
  29. As the whole human body is powered by the brain, so the upper and lower elements are powered by the sun, which is in the middle of the celestial bodies; while three parts of the world are illumined by the sun, God left the fourth part darkened and cold; the mystical reason for these things in the inner person.
  30. What the rising and setting of the sun signify in a person’s actions, and how it disappears at one time, hidden by clouds or excessive storms; and when these are wiped away, returns its light to the earth at another.
  31. For the forehead is established between the brain and eyes such that it gathers the infirmities that arise from the brain and stomach, just as the moon receives what descends from the upper elements and ascends from the lower ones; the eyes declare with their whiteness, pupils, and moisture the pure ether, the stars, and the vapor that rises up from the waters below; and the manifold consideration of these things in the qualities of the soul.
  32. The reasons why tears, gathered from the body’s humors, flow from the eyes, and rains, drawn up from the waters below, flow from the clouds; a careful explanation of these things with respect to the soul’s affections.
  33. For just as no visible form exists without a name, so neither does it exist without dimension; what the equal measure of the outer eyes signifies in the inner person.
  34. For the judgment of the rational soul ought to establish both the reward for good and the punishment for evil; and no penance would suffice in comparison to eternal recompense, even if it surpassed all the sand and drops of the sea.
  35. For as a person is empowered by their eyes and others senses, and the sky is enlightened by the sun, moon, and stars that come to its aid with the service of their light, so too the soul is illumined by the works of true repentance and washed swiftly of its sins by sighs and tears.
  36. As the head is upheld by the chin and the upper elements by the clouds; and as too the bones in a person are hardened by fire and their marrow congealed by the cold, and the earth is maintained through summer and winter in order to bear fruit; so too the minds of the faithful are strengthened for any good things by the Holy Spirit’s fire and the dew of remorse, and weakened by the sloth of laziness and neglect.
  37. Again, on the useful purpose of the senses within a person and the stars within the world; and the devil’s guile, by which he deceived Eve and through her poured original sin into all posterity, is like a cloud that rises out of a noxious gas to cover over the earth and harm its fruit and hinder sight so that the brightness of day cannot be seen.
  38. The eyebrows, granted in defense of the eyes, designate the paths of the moon, liable to monthly waxing and waning; and in accordance with this, the constancy and security of the soul must be kept within the fear of God amid both prosperity and adversity.
  39. On the nose, mouth, and ears, how they function in a person, and what their various effects signify in the outer elements of the world and in the inner ones of the soul; and that in all things, the examples of the saints are to be followed.
  40. In the human tongue is shown the waters’ flood, and what is represented in inner meanings by this outer flood of waves.
  41. What virtue and strength are expressed in us by the teeth, which are [not] cavitied and do not have marrow.[10]
  42. Why an infant, though having bones, is born without teeth, and when people decline in old age, they often loose their teeth; and what is represented by these things.
  43. How and from where teeth are formed in children, and why they are sometimes afflicted with severe pain; the signification of these things within us.
  44. The teeth maintain the likeness of a mill as they circulate and pulverize the food by which a person is nourished; how the soul imitates these things in its inner matters.
  45. By the chin, throat, and neck are indicated the diverse functions they themselves possess in the body, and the various effects of the clouds in the world and the manifold effects of the virtues in the soul.
  46. Through the hairs that fittingly adorn the head are represented the drops of outward dew and rains by which the earth is made fertile for plants and clothed with the beauty of fruits, and the cultivation of inner innocence, chastity, and humility, with which the soul gleams before God.
  47. Why it happens that on some people’s heads the hairs keep their strength and are not uprooted, while on others’ heads they grow weak and fall out in baldness; by these are denoted both the fertility and sterility of both the outward fruits on the earth and the inner virtues in the soul.
  48. What the placement of Man facing east, with his back to the west, his right to the south, and his left to the north, signifies in the varied outcomes of the soul.
  49. For as the shoulders and arms, together with the hands, are attached to the neck, so the four principal winds together with their collaterals are attached to the firmament; how four faculties in the human person—thought, speech, intention, and sighing—are likened to these four winds, and what it signifies that there is a greater force on the right side than on the left.
  50. For the soul, sent by God’s spirit into the body, floods it entirely with its powers, just as the blast of the winds runs through the whole world.
  51. For as the human person is governed and upheld by their arms and legs, so too each wind aids the others in strengthening the firmament; what both this and the gentle breeze or tempestuous racing of those winds represent in the soul.
  52. How in the elbows of the arms and the joints of the shoulder blades and hands are defined the curvatures of the winds; and as right and left, as well as firmament and earth, cooperate with each other, so too the human person accomplishes all their works—even contrary ones—through the knowledge of good and evil.
  53. On the threefold measurement of the human body and of the thickness of the world’s sphere, and how human life befits that measurement as to childhood, young adulthood, and old age.
  54. For the upper part of the earth is brittle, soft, and permeable, while its lower part is tough, hard, and impenetrable; and what is to be found in the human soul with respect to these things.
  55. What the measurement of the upper arms, lower arms, hands, as well as feet to the tip of the largest digit—a measurement like to the winds in each proportion—represents in the qualities of the inner person.
  56. What the measurement of the thighs across the front in breadth, and the measurement from the navel to the place of discharge in length, which are proportionately congruent to the breadth and thickness and of the earth, show in the various affects of the soul.
  57. For the atmosphere is signified by the space that is from the bottom of the throat to the navel, and the soul—which vivifies the whole body and moves it in its operation—is compared to this atmosphere, which pervades all empty spaces and tempers the earth to bear fruits in various ways.
  58. From the air are nourished both the birds as they are drawn up in flight and also certain fish in the waters, so that they can live for a time without other food; in this way the human person who follows the desires not of the flesh but of the soul both flies in contemplation and is nourished by the sweetness of the scriptures.
  59. Both the sea and the rivers are moved by the air, and the body by its veins flowing with blood, and the soul by the virtues, like the earth watered by such streams, to bring forth the shoots of good works.
  60. For as the earth is loosened into mud by summer heat and winter cold and impregnated to sprout, so too within the clash between soul and flesh, the human person bears the fruit sometimes of virtues and sometimes of vices.
  61. For as a person’s chest encloses within itself the heart, liver, and lungs, so too the atmosphere encloses within itself the heat, dryness, and humidity of the breezes; and in this way, too, the soul’s memory contains its thoughts and works by arranging them.
  62. For as the heart is quickened by the liver, lungs, and other internal organs connected to it, and as time shifts with the changes of day and night and the atmosphere with the changes from tranquility to storms, so too amid the battles of flesh and soul, a person’s life is sometimes shaken by the whirlwind of vices and at others cheered by the brightness of virtues.
  63. As the belly encloses and contains within itself the bowels and food ground up by the millstone of the teeth to be of use for the whole body, so too the soul ought to store thoughts of its correction in the vault of its memory and ruminate upon them with careful discretion.
  64. The swellings of the flesh that project from the chest and are called breasts signify outwardly the fruitful abundance of the atmosphere and inwardly a person’s heartfelt desires; for as woman is weak and infirm in comparison to a man, so too the flesh’s delight has no strength in comparison to the powers of the soul.
  65. Because of her weakness, woman looks to man for her care and ought to be subject to him and ever ready to serve; what their outwardly common way of life together signifies inwardly.
  66. Whoever has cleaned away their sins through repentance is no longer to be ashamed at them; and the one who crucifies themselves with fasts and prayers adorns their soul as with a purple robe.
  67. For as the air brings the earth’s fruits to maturity through heat and moisture, so the heart, liver, and lungs warm the belly to consume and digest food; and God consumes the perverse habits of sin with the fire of his jealousy.
  68. The words of David pertain to this, and are to be taken in this sense (Ps 17:9[18:8]).
  69. The tenderness of the belly, fortified by the ribs and bones, signifies the softness of the earth, fruitful and interspersed with stones; what too is expressed by these things within the varying quality of human life; an appropriate passage from Psalm 16 applied to this (Ps 16[17]:12).
  70. For as blossoms are cast off from the fruits that follow, so too hunger is banished by the satiety that comes after; in the same way, when the soul has enacted repentance for the sins in which it was wasted as with famine, it is filled up with God’s justice in the execution of holy works.
  71. The congruencies shared by stomach, world, and soul; God willed that humankind never be left without the law’s command; what both summer’s viridity and winter’s dryness and the world’s ample capacity signify within the human person.
  72. In the likeness of the air that aids the earth in being fruitful, the soul also moves the body by its powers to execute particular works; if these are right, the soul is adorned by them in eternity to gaze perfectly upon God and the angels and the blessed souls; but if they are perverse, the soul is cast away from this vision as if unclean.
  73. For as the earth would wither into dust if it were twice a year to blossom green and indiscriminately to give birth, so too the soul would fail in its work if served all its own desires and all the flesh’s pleasures without moderation; and as the image of an earth that bears fruit unequally because of its variability, the soul, because it is placed in a conflict with the flesh that progresses at one point but falters at another, cannot perfectly maintain in this life either the faith commended in the Gospel (cf. Mt 17:9 / Lk 17:6) or the vision of God lost in paradise.
  74. For as the veins of the heart, liver, and lungs assist the stomach in receiving and discharging food, and as continual or excessive fullness or emptiness would harm that stomach, so too the soul aids the body indeed in each of its works, though it would harm the soul if it allowed the body always to follow the flesh’s desires.
  75. For as human flesh is harmed if it receives either more or less nourishment of food than is necessary, so too the soul is harmed if it pursues severity or laxity more or less than is right; and the stomach, which indeed accepts clean food but rejects rotten food, signifies the person who takes delight in sin but later is purged through repentance.
  76. As the navel is the strong point for all the inner organs that are attached to it, and the earth’s compass is a containing refuge for all other creatures, so too all things that are done by body and soul, whether good or evil, reflect on that soul; and therefore there is a great difference between those who do wrong because of pride and those who do so out of negligence.
  77. The navel is also compared to the earth when it emits mucky, watery filth in the swamps, insofar as heat, cold, and moisture take food and drink that are thoroughly cooked within and squeeze it on to the lower parts to be digested; and likewise, the soul must tumble down into the lower places of punishment when it is overcome by the flesh’s pleasures and enwrapped in dirty deeds, unless it is purged by the sighs of penitence.
  78. For as the earth and the human person each grow green and flourish—the one in summertime, the other in youth—and again each dries up and withers—the one in winter, the other in old age—so too the soul, while it dwells in the body and compels the body to serve it, grows green in the good works and examples of the Son of God, mounting from virtue unto virtue (Ps 83:8[84:7]), and afterwards is led from the body, adorned as with precious stones, while it breathlessly waits to receive again the body in which it labored, to rest before God.
  79. What the strength and wantonness of the loins and the richness of the earth—which when in balance produces abundant fruit, but when in imbalance, hollow fruit—signify in the varied affects of the soul.
  80. The earth was established within the midst of the atmosphere, tempered against storms by mountains and hills that are in part hot and cold, and in part seething and icy, like a city fortified by towers and ramparts; and in this way the soul that engages in the manifold conflict against the flesh’s desires is equipped and defended by the protection of holy works.
  81. For as the earth is positioned such that it is moderated in every place by the sun, so too the soul that is subject to God is flooded by wisdom’s light, to be illuminated by the virtue of discretion.
  82. For the human person, made in the likeness of the earth, has bones without marrow in place of the stones and bones with marrow in place of the trees; and according to the quality of one’s character, one receives either the hardness of stones or the lushness of a flourishing garden or fruitful orchard.
  83. Again, as the atmosphere surrounds and sustains everywhere and equally the earth placed in its midst, so body and soul—conjoined by God, yet greatly divided in nature—ought patiently to sustain and instruct one another in carrying out together the precepts of their Creator.
  84. The bladder, which receives and passes on drink, shows the courses of the rivers that pour forth throughout the land; in this way, the soul—the conqueress of the flesh—ought to water its body by receiving good things of God’s flowing precepts and passing on the bad; an appropriate passage for this is applied in a verse from Psalm 118 (Ps 118[119]:74).
  85. The parts of the body through which the digestion of food and drink happens signify the hidden and underground channels of the rivers; the complaint of the soul polluted by grimy and rotting deeds as it gasps for God through the hope of repentance and the suffering of Christ; a fitting passage for this is adduced in a verse from Psalm 41 (Ps 41:6-7[42:5-6]).
  86. By the human person’s back and sides are indicated the surface of the earth, while by the thighs and the buttocks are indicated the earth’s hills and the roughness of its lower and impenetrable part, which supports the upper part that is soft; likewise the softness of the flesh is restrained from vices by the soul’s powers, so that, adorned with pearls, it enkindles the holy angels to wonder at it and praise God.
  87. The words of St. John the Apostle in his Apocalypse (Rv 21:2), contemplating and describing the beauty of the Bride of Christ (i.e. the holy soul), and of David in a Psalm (Ps 8:6-7[5-6]), declaring the excellence of the human person.
  88. Again, on the arrangement of the uninhabitable earth—hard and soft either with heat or with cold—and what causes the movements of the earth; and if that earth beneath were not as of iron or steel, it would be broken apart by excessive heat when the sun is up or by excessive cold when the sun is down; and on the manifold conflict between flesh and soul, with respect to what was just described.
  89. The words of David in Psalm 101, decrying the swift course of his days and his decay (Ps 101:12[102:11]).
  90. The earth indeed is round along its entire surface, but not smooth because of the swellings of hills and mountains that it bears on all sides; this signifies the uneven course of human experience, because of the various battles of virtues and vices that are waged between soul and flesh.
  91. As the surface underneath the earth bars like iron the waters that beat upon and flow around it, so too the soul’s power is as the steel that sharpens other iron implements, and ought to master and rebuff from itself the devil’s falsehood and attacks.
  92. The joints that are found in a person, whether of equal or disparate measure from the thigh through the knee and ankle to the tip of the foot’s big toe, and from the wrist to the tip of the middle finger, signify in the world the twists and turns of the ocean and rivers, and in the human person the assaults and furies of sexual desires and the manifold oppositions of the conjoined natures of flesh and soul.
  93. Again, in the joints of the shoulders and arms, hands, hips, knees, and feet, in which there are the twelve major joints, are imparted the blasts of the four principle winds and their eight collaterals, and the distances by which they are separated; and those winds are tempered by each other with heat, cold, dryness, and moisture.
  94. On the perilous harshness and harmful breeze of the north wind in particular, which sometimes in the summer injures fruits with its frigid moisture and withers the trees, obscures the sun and shifts the moon’s sheen through various colors.
  95. How all the things that were contained within the dimensions and joints of the human limbs and of the winds described in the previous two chapters, as well as the changing of day and night and the hours, are to be referred to the soul; God fitted that soul with four powers that it possesses as to the body (from the elements of fire, air, water, and earth) and again as to itself (as if with four wings), to rule both itself and its body.
  96. Again, on the creation of the north wind, and how those things that are said specifically of its harshness and the injuries that are outwardly caused by it in creation are to be understood as the insinuations of the vices by which soul and body are inwardly provoked by the devil.
  97. The reason why God wakened and roused Adam from the earth and first stood him up so that he faced east, with his right to the south and left to the north; in his short and limited stature God gathered together the immense instrument of the whole world and made all creatures subject to his dominion and powers.
  98. Again, the manifold reasons (supported throughout with appropriate passages of Scripture) for why both the seasons and months of the whole year, according to the properties of their qualities, the ascent and descent of the sun, and the waxing and waning of the moon, are assigned to the qualities of the human person, both according to the distinctions and dimensions of their limbs and their stages of life, as well as the properties of their body’s humors and the diverse advances and declines of the affects of their mind.
  99. The words of David in Psalm 103 are relevant to this (Ps 103[104]:19).
  100. Man—created in the image of God, sitting upon the judgment seat of the earth like another lord and governing all creation made on his own behalf—is the complete work of that God and very pleasing to him; each sex was made to be the helper and solace of the other, and man holds the form of Christ’s divinity and woman his humanity.
  101. The words of David in Psalm 109 and their exposition as to how they are to be understood concerning Christ’s Incarnation and power and the subjugation of his enemies (Ps 109[110]:1).
  102. For as Man is distinguished through the five senses with the insignia of almighty God, he ought to recognize and worship his Author as one in Trinity and threefold in unity—and for this God both founded and then restored him after the Fall, to be both lord of the world and the tenth choir in heaven.
  103. The nature of the soul is fiery and manifold in the efficacy of its powers, by which it recognizes God, understands and governs itself, gives sensation to its body, and moves it into acting.
  104. For according to their works God judges a person either to life or to punishment, and when the holy soul has been stripped of its body, it sees God fully—which it cannot now do because of the flesh’s corrupting hindrance—and longingly waits to take up again its lovely vesture—its body—at the Day of Judgment, to enjoy within it the endless contemplation and praise of God, together with the angels.
  105. Exposition of the first chapter of the Gospel according to John, from the place where is written, “In the beginning was the Word” (Jn 1:1) to “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). This exposition deals with the eternity of the Word of God; creation, and how it existed within the Creator’s skill without coeternity to him before it came into being; the creation of the angels and the vengeance of God’s jealousy against the apostate spirits; the plan for creating Man in the image of God, and how the force of the Founder’s power and the light of his wisdom gleam within the work of the human body; the Incarnation of God, and the words of teaching and examples of justice that he gave to the world; and again the restoration of fallen Man and his happiness after this life.

Part II, Vision 1: The Earth: Life’s Merits, Purgatory, and Commentary on the Creation

Liber Divinorum Operum II.1:
The Parts of the Earth: Living, Dying, and Purgatory.
Biblioteca Statale di Lucca, MS 1942,
fol. 88v (early 13th-cen.)
By permission of the Ministry of Cultural
Heritage and Activities and Tourism
.
  1. A vision of great wonder, in which are described with subtle acuity the [earth’s] orb divided into five parts, as well as the dimensions and qualities of those parts, which are filled with awe struck both by light and pleasantness and by punishment and darkness; and also two globes—the one surrounded by a sapphire color, the other glittering with luminous rays—together with the things situated around them.
  2. For the wisdom and power of God the Craftsman gleam wondrously in the fact that the earth’s element is not angular but round and divided into neither more nor less than five parts, and with good reason he suspended it unmoving in the midst of the other three elements; and he both enriches the human person in this life with five senses—a figure of the fivefold division of the earth—and in the future will restore them to wholeness from the dust of the grave.
  3. Again on the five divisions of the earth—in what way they are mutually tempered by their innate qualities, and how they are fitted to the human person’s five senses.
  4. To the one contemplating these things, the divisions of two of the earth’s parts—the southern and northern ones—appear each divided into three further subdivisions; how these things are to be understood with respect to a person’s body, soul, and works.
  5. The earth’s fifth part in the midst of all these appears squared and divided into a threefold division, rendered uninhabitable in one place by heat and in another by cold, and habitable in another by a balance; what is signified by these things in the human experience.
  6. Again on the qualities of those other four parts, in which places the punishments are gathered to purge the souls of penitent people—in some places lightly, in others gravely, and in others most sharply, each distinguished as they are examined according to the types of their guilt; and why in the middle sections of those parts there are not punishments but certain monstrous horrors.
  7. God’s judgments that come upon the earth and humans are poured out of the places of punishment of those parts, and against hell’s punishments and darkness are placed certain very tall and very strong mountains, lest they invade the world; and souls are placed in those parts to be examined on the quality of their offenses.
  8. The words from the Apocalypse of the Apostle John speak of this, in which four ages and their qualities from the origin of the world to its end are subtly described as signified by four horses—white, red, black, and pale (Rv 6:2-8).
  9. Because he envies humankind the heavenly glory that he lost, the ancient enemy always rejoices at their punishment, and therefore he ardently presses upon humankind to infect them with hatred’s horror, murder, the crime of sodomy, and other vices.
  10. Through the red globe and the wings that encircle it on each side above and below, as shown in this vision, are shown both the jealousy of God, by which sins are punished with charity, and his protections, by which those who are to be saved are defended.
  11. Through the red circle that stretches itself like a bow around the outer part of the west is signified the extension of God’s vengeance against those who are outside the integrity of the true faith and the path of good works.
  12. On the edifice that appears above the earth’s round;[11] on the avenue and star shining above it, and on the other globe and the rays of the stars shining between the wings; and on the spaces by which all these things are separated; how they are in reference to the city of God, which is the Church, and Christ; the Holy Spirit and his gifts; and the angels, by whose guardianship the saints are defended.
  13. On the outer darkness, and the punishments and tortures of various types in which the souls of the damned are tormented with the devil and his followers, for these are the places in which they are kept; and no one while living in the body can comprehend the dire torments of hell.
  14. For God is the unique life that subsists within itself and receives its being from none, but rather gives being to all things; again on the creation of the angels, and on the fall of the proud spirits and confirmation of the blessed; and although the devil forever labors in the attempt, he cannot destroy the number of those who are to be saved.
  15. For Man was made in the virtue of divine light, but was deceived by the devil’s fraud; and God created for him a garment of the air, and after he was clothed, expelled him from paradise into the exile of this world, to cleanse the guild of disobedience; in the casting out of humankind, creation was overshadowed away from its pristine beauty; and how the human person lives and works, aided by the elements.
  16. None except God alone could uproot humankind from perdition and conquer their deceiver the devil; words from the book of the Apocalypse of the Apostle John, and in what sense they are to be taken, concerning the dragon’s hatred and persecution against the woman and her seed, and how she was given aid by the earth (Rv 12:13-16).
  17. For when God established the world, be both glorified himself to be revealed to a rational creature as the Creator of all things, and at the same time magnified humankind through the subjugation of what is in the world; how the beginning of the book of Genesis is to be understood according to the letter, from the place where it is written, “In the beginning, God created heaven and earth,” to “And there was evening and morning, one day” (Gn 1:1-5).
  18. For as the Son of God, born of the Father without time, is the beginning in which the universe was established, so as he was born of a Virgin Mother, he is the beginning of the creation or construction of the Church and the author of the complete justification for which no righteousness of the fathers or sacraments of the law could suffice, but which has been reformed in the preaching and reception of baptism and the Gospel, and in the faith in the Trinity.
  19. The words of the prophet David in the first Psalm, and how they are to be understood concerning the Incarnation of the Son of God and the fertility of his fruitful teaching throughout all the world (Ps 1:3).
  20. For what is written, “And the earth was empty and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Gn 1:2), is understood by allegory concerning the unbelievers who were empty of good work and dark in their unfaithfulness; and what follows, “And the spirit of God was borne over the waters” (Gn 1:2), was fulfilled in the apostles and believing people by the Holy Spirit’s grace.
  21. Again, the words of David in Psalm 28, which befit the apostles’ teaching, and how they are to be taken (Ps 28[29]:3).[12]
  22. How God’s words saying, “Let there be light!” etc. down to, “And there was evening and morning, one day” (Gn 1:3-5), were fulfilled with respect to the allegorical sense in the origin of the Christian faith and the preaching of the apostles, and the division of the faithful from the unbelievers.
  23. How what is written in Genesis concerning the creation of heaven and earth and the work of the first day are to be found according to the moral sense in the experience of the human person, who exists by the distinct natures of soul and body.
  24. How what is read concerning the establishment of the firmament and the division of the waters (Gn 1:6-8) is to be understood as to the letter; and the words of David from Psalm 18 considering the same (Ps 18:2[19:1]).
  25. Allegorically, the firmament is taken as Christ and Christ’s faith; the division of the waters as the strong interposition of that faith, by which the faithful are divided from the unfaithful; and evening and morning as the fall of vice and rising of virtue.
  26. For as the second day was without the lights of heaven, so too the faith was without the shining works of anyone’s praise, and therefore in the work of that second day it is not specified, as it is for the works of the other days, that, “God saw that it was good.”
  27. According to the moral sense, the firmament is understood as the virtue of discretion, by which each faithful person knows in both the active and contemplative life how to separate what is necessary for the body from what is superfluous, as well as what is salutary for the soul from what is harmful.
  28. The passage from the Gospel in which the Bridegroom says to the foolish virgins, “I know you not” (Mt 25:12); why this adduced here and in what sense it is to be taken.
  29. Why with respect to morality the work of the second day, although it is good, also lacks the praise of its goodness.
  30. How what is written from, “Let the waters be gathered together,” to “And there was evening and morning, the third day” (Gn 1:9-13), is to be understood appropriately according to the letter.
  31. The words of God in the book of the prophet Isaiah, saying, “I have always kept quiet, I have kept silent, I have been patient—I will speak now as one giving birth” (Is 42:14), and in the second Psalm, speaking to his Son, “This day have I begotten you” (Ps 2:7); why they are placed here and how they are to be understood.
  32. For the fact that God called the dry land “earth,” and the gatherings together of the waters he called “seas” (Gn 1:10), is taken from different perspectives allegorically of the Church, which was gathered together from many peoples and founded upon the solidity of the faith—called by David, “the land of the living” (Ps 26[27]:13), and by the Apostle John in the Apocalypse, “a sea of glass mingled with fire” (Rv 15:2-3); in what sense these passages are to be taken.
  33. The Church’s womb, like a kind of earth, sprouts now green vegetation in the simplicity of the little ones of the faith,[13] and fruit-bearing trees in the powerful action of those who are perfected; and according to the seed, the praise of faith germinates in each successive generation of believers until the end; and this was on the third day of faith, i.e. in its brightness.
  34. Again, how what was described in the historical sense as done on the third day is to be found in the morals of the Church’s children, according to the tropological sense; added to this is a fitting passage from the Gospel (Lk 8:6), and in what sense it ought to be taken.
  35. How what is written from, “God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven…’” to “And there was evening and morning, the fourth day” (Gn 1:14-19), should be taken as to the letter.
  36. For according to the allegorical sense, the firmament is the firmness of the Christian faith: by the two great lights are signified two authorities—the spiritual with the priests and the secular with the kings; and by the stars are signified the lesser prelates and judges who are beneath them; and all of these are positioned to illuminate the earth—the Church—in day and night, by instructing the spiritual with the light of teaching and examples, and compelling the carnal with the censure of justice.
  37. For again, according to the tropological sense, the discretion of reason is understood by the firmament, the two commandments of charity by the two great lights, and right thoughts by the stars, so that through these each faithful person might be illuminated to anxiously discern what honor and thanks they owe to God and what they owe to their own and their neighbors’ needs with respect to the soul’s salvation and the body’s use.
  38. How what is written from, “Let the waters bring forth the creeping creature with a living spirit, and the flying one over the earth…” to “And there was evening and morning, the fifth day” (Gn 1:20-23), is to be understood as to the letter, and how it is fitted to the human person.
  39. For God destined his only Son[14] for the world, that by his declaration would be given the sublime precepts of the heavenly way of life, by which the spiritual are distinguished from the carnal; the words of the Gospel concerning all the rest (Mt 19:29), with an elegant exposition for teaching the evangelical discipline.[15]
  40. Again, the words of the Gospel concerning the many dwellings in the Father’s house (Jn 14:2), and on the two types of the Church’s children, the spiritual and the secular.
  41. The blessing given by God to the fish and birds to increase is fulfilled in the spiritual generation of the baptized and the fecundity of each faithful person’s virtues; why these things are ascribed to the fifth day.
  42. How what was given by the work of the fifth day and God’s blessing upon that work ought to be rendered for moral instruction, with an appropriate passage from the prophet Isaiah, saying, “Who are these who fly like clouds, and like doves to their windows?” (Is 60:8), and how this too is to be understood.
  43. How the story that is written concerning the work of the sixth day, with the bringing forth of the cattle and creeping things of the earth and the formation of humankind, is to be understood as to the letter (Gn 1:24-31); as to the body, Man was made in the image of the Son of God’s humanity, which God foreknew from eternity that he would assume from a Virgin; and as to the soul, he was made in the likeness of divinity through knowledge and imitation of the good.
  44. How by God’s word speaking through the apostles concerning the earth of the Church in the catholic faith, the cattle and creeping things and beasts, as well as Man, who ought to be at the head of all of them, are understood in the allegorical sense according to the varieties of ages, intellects, and levels of those who live within the Church, as the former [i.e. cattle, etc.] are brought forth and the latter [i.e. Man] is formed; and how and why they are to grow and multiply.
  45. [44]. On the variety of foods allowed in Genesis to humankind and to cattle, and how they are taken in the spiritual sense for the Church according to the distribution and reception of spiritual nourishment, which is the Word of God; and how both an apposite passage from Christ saying, “My food is to do the will of my Father” (Jn 4:34), and, “And there was evening and morning, the sixth day” (Gn 1:31), are to be taken.
  46. [45-6]. A repetition of all that is written in Genesis concerning the work of the sixth day, and how it ought to be understood or taken as to morality; two passages, from a Psalm (Ps 81[82]:6) and the Gospel (Mt 12:50), are included, and the sense in which they too are to be taken.
  47. On the completion of heaven and earth and all their embellishment, and the fulfillment of God’s works, which is ascribed to the seventh day; and on the sanctification of that day and God’s rest; and how this is to be understood as to the letter (Gn 2:1-3).
  48. How this was fulfilled as to the allegory by the Incarnation of the Son of God and the preaching of the Gospel and the operation of the Holy Spirit among the Church’s children and those subject to the Christian faith.
  49. Again, how this is accomplished as to the tropological sense in the advance and perfection of each faithful person.

Part III, Vision 1: The City of God and the Mirror of the Angels

Liber Divinorum Operum III.1:
The City of God and the Mirror of the Angels.
Biblioteca Statale di Lucca, MS 1942,
fol. 118r (early 13th-cen.)
By permission of the Ministry of Cultural
Heritage and Activities and Tourism
.
  1. A mystical vision of an edifice shown in the manner of a city; of a mountain as well as the mirror that gleams upon it; of a cloud shining white above, black beneath; and other things appearing in this vision.
  2. On the foreknowledge, predestination, and ordinance of God, who foreknows all things from eternity, creates all things within time, and examines the works of the rational creature within the bounds of his judgment.
  3. God’s knowledge contains within itself many things unknown and hidden, and brings forth at its pleasure the showing of its wonders; what the threefold condition of the angels that appear in this vision signifies.
  4. On God’s spirit stirring up its jealous wrath through the blessed angels to beat back and crush the presumption of the reprobate angels; and on the blessed angels’ tireless symphony, inestimable and beyond human understanding, forever new in their awe as they praise God.
  5. One group of the blessed spirits remains hidden in heaven, ever present before the face of their Creator, and only rarely sent outside heaven; while another is honored with the title of “angels,” and goes ever forth in various duties to appear to humans when necessary; and every rational creature ought always to seek not its own glory but that of the Creator.
  6. The words of the psalmist from Psalm 92 considering the same, and the sense in which they are to be understood (Ps 92[93]:3-4).






Part III, Vision 2: The City in Salvation History: Creation to Incarnation

Liber Divinorum Operum III.2:
The City of God in Salvation History.
Biblioteca Statale di Lucca, MS 1942,
fol. 121v (early 13th-cen.)
By permission of the Ministry of Cultural
Heritage and Activities and Tourism
.
  1. A mystical vision of a marble stone, the form of the mountain established along the eastern side of the city’s edifice shown above; as well as of a countless multitude of people appearing along both the eastern and southern stretches of that edifice; and also of the wondrous form and clothing of two images established next to the eastern corner.
  2. For almighty God, who is undivided within himself by any mutability, condemned the prideful angels with just judgment, and when humankind was deceived, he came to their aid with loving mercy—after sending many wondrous messages of their future salvation in the Old Testament, at last in the New Testament he fulfilled their liberation through very many miracles; and prophecy divinely given for instruction and correction has never been absent and never will be absent in any age of the world.
  3. The words of David from the first verse of Psalm 44, i.e. “My heart has uttered a good word…” (Ps 44:2[45:1]), pertain to this and to each one born of Christ, and they are to be understood in this way.
  4. For the first of the two images established at the eastern edge of the edifice shown has almost the entire appearance of a wild beast and signifies the time that was before the flood, when humans lived without law and without recognizing the true God, in a cruel way more bestial than human.
  5. On the strength, cruelty, and impure behavior of people before the flood, and how under the devil’s skill all but a few wandered away from worshiping God.
  6. For because God would not suffer the iniquities and crimes of the people of that age, he destroyed the entire human race and all living things with the waters of the flood, except those whom he enclosed in the ark; on the changing of the sun, moon, stars, and earth away from the properties they had before the flood; and at the world’s end, fire will consume the earth to the same depth as it was penetrated by the waters’ inundation.
  7. For because of the changing of the elements, human powers also were diminished after the flood; on the correction of humans terrified at the time by the terror of such judgment, and on the bow then put in place for the first time as a pact or sign between God and humans.
  8. The other image signifies that time that was after flood and under the law; and the differences of its varied clothing signify the divisions of time from the flood to the coming of the Lord and the end of the world, and the types of behavior of the people who are or will be in those times.
  9. On the significance of sacrifices, circumcision, and the law, which preceded the soon-to-be-incarnate Son of God by prophecy among the forefathers; on the prophets’ preaching, and that Man could not be saved unless the Word became flesh; on the devil’s insinuations, by which he derisively deceives people, and on the forms of aid by which God always restores.
  10. On the countless host of the faithful who manfully go to battle in various ways in this life both in discipline and in the mortification of vices, both for God’s honor and their own salvation, and who receive in God’s gift the various rewards for such merits.
  11. The words of David from Psalm 62 pertain to this, and ought to be taken in this sense (Ps 62:8-9[63:7-8]).
  12. For all things were created by the Word that arose from the Father without beginning, and through that Word made flesh in the Virgin, humankind was redeemed.
  13. The words of David from Psalm 103 regard this, and are to be understood in this way (Ps 103[104]:3).
  14. For in what he did and accomplished in the flesh, the Son of God fulfilled all things that were either signified of him by typological actions, or foretold of him by mystical words, both before the law and within the law; and after his ascension, he empowered the twelve apostles—a figure of the twelve winds or the twelve signs of the sky—by the sending of the spirit and through their preaching illumined the world, to transform all things for the better.
  15. The words of Christ in the Gospel, speaking on the authority given to him by the Father; and how they are to be understood (Mt 11:27).
  16. For the words of the prophets, being obscure and unknown, could not be understood before the Lord’s Incarnation, but Christ lived in accordance with them in the world, and in fulfilling them, rendered them intelligible; and through the water of baptism in the faith in the Trinity, both original sin and committed sins are washed away.
  17. The words of David from Psalm 103 (Ps 103[104]:20); and on those who through infidelity have not received the remission of their guilt in baptism, and on those who are cleansed in it by faith.

Part III, Vision 3: The Fountain of God’s Work: Theophany of Divine Love, with Humility and Peace

Liber Divinorum Operum III.3:
The Fountain of God’s Work:
Theophany of Divine Love,
with Humility and Peace.
Biblioteca Statale
di Lucca
, MS 1942,
fol. 132r (early 13th-cen.)
By permission of the
Ministry of Cultural
Heritage and Activities
and Tourism
.
  1. A short vision of three images and a description of their situation and appearance; and of the ranks of saints that appear before them.
  2. The words of the first image—the virtue of Divine Love—declaring the magnificence of her works in angels and humans and in the teaching of the prophets and apostles; and extolling with highest praise the excellence of the virtues of Wisdom and Humility.
  3. Each thing that God has enacted, he has accomplished with Love, Humility, and Peace; an exposition of the vision just described, shown in the images of these three virtues.
  4. The words of David from Psalm 44, commending the Church adorned with the varied trim of the virtues (Ps 44:10[45:9]).







Part III, Vision 4: Wisdom and the Ancient Counsel Unfolding in God’s Works

Liber Divinorum Operum III.4:
Wisdom and the Ancient Counsel before the City of God.
Biblioteca Statale di Lucca, MS 1942,
fol. 135r (early 13th-cen.)
By permission of the Ministry of Cultural
Heritage and Activities and Tourism
.
  1. A vision of two images gleaming with wondrous brightness, and a description of their appearance; and of the darkness that attacks the whole western stretch of the edifice previously described; and of the sulfurous fire and other darkness that twists around to the middle of the northern stretch.
  2. For the first of the two images indicates Wisdom, and the manifold beauty of her appearance signifies all types of creation, which God established with diverse natures and appearances of things.
  3. The other image designates almighty God; what is expressed by the radiance in place of its head, the human head appearing in the midst of its belly, and also its feet that are like lion’s feet.
  4. How this image appears surrounded by six wings, and what those wings represent.
  5. What it signifies that this same image appears with its entire body covered with little fish fins and not bird feathers; the Son of God entered the world in the flesh without the devil’s knowledge, and the reason why the Father willed him to endure such sufferings.
  6. On the five mirrors that appear in various parts of that image’s two middle wings—what they signify, and how the inscriptions shown upon them are to be understood.
  7. The words of God in Exodus, saying to Moses, “I will show you all goodness…” (Ex 33:19-23), and how they are to be taken concerning the mystery of the Lord’s Incarnation.
  8. Again, the words of David from Psalm 92, where he says, “Wonderful are the surges of the sea; wonderful is the Lord in the heights” (Ps 92[93]:4), and how they ought to be understood.
  9. Again, his words from the same psalm, where he says, “Indeed, he established the globe of the earth, which shall never be moved” (Ps 92[93]:1).
  10. For when the image described above turns its back to the north, this signifies that God kept hid from the devil and all the wicked spirits the plan for his Son’s Incarnation and human redemption.
  11. The words of David from Psalm 102, where it is written, “The Lord has prepared his throne in heaven…” (Ps 102[103]:19), and in what sense they are to be taken; and a short recapitulation of the Lord’s Incarnation.
  12. Again, his words from Psalm 71, where it reads, “He shall come down like rain upon the fleece…” (Ps 71[72]:6), which are also to be taken in reference to the Lord’s Incarnation.
  13. For the darkness seen in the western stretch, as well as the fire shown with the sulfur and another, denser darkness to the northern side of the edifice described above, demonstrate where in the outer world are the places of punishment in which sinners’ souls are tortured; and they also signify those sinners’ inner blindness, by which they are darkened by infidelity.
  14. For God made all things through Wisdom to confound the devil’s wickedness, and so that, although he is invisible, he might be understood by the human person through faith and recognized through his work; and before time he held within himself the plan of order for his entire work, which he established in time, and in the process established humankind according to himself, first to arrange by thinking within themselves each thing that later they would administer in acting.

Part III, Vision 5: Divine Love upon the Wheel: Eternity and History

Liber Divinorum Operum III.5:
Divine Love upon the Wheel.
Biblioteca Statale di Lucca, MS 1942,
fol. 143r (early 13th-cen.)
By permission of the Ministry of Cultural
Heritage and Activities and Tourism
.
  1. The final vision, in which a wheel of great size is shown and what it is is carefully described; and again the image of Divine Love is glimpsed under a different form.
  2. For it would not be possible to truly call God “one” if there were another exactly like him by nature; and the aforeshown quality of the wheel shows that God himself has neither beginning nor end and is equipped for all good things; how the whole description of that wheel refers to God’s eternity and power as well as to the salvation of souls.
  3. Why the virtue of Love is glimpsed, adorned with different trim than in the vision above.
  4. On the transparent tablet in the form of crystal that appears before the image of Love, and what it signifies that, as that image gazes upon that tablet, the line on which she sits moves; a brief repetition of the creation of heaven, earth, the angels, and humankind.
  5. On God’s vengeance through the flood water against transgressors of the natural law; and on the different stages of time from the beginning all the way to the Lord’s Incarnation.
  6. The words of Paul on the fullness of time, in which God sent his Son, made of woman (Gal 4:4-5), to set free by fulfilling with his coming the mystical sayings and deeds of old, and to change all things for the better by enlightening the world with his teaching and the preaching of the apostles and the teachers of the Church.
  7. These times are decaying from the pristine strength of apostolic discipline into womanly weakness, and everything is being changed for the worse, both in the disturbance of the elements and in the depravity of morals.
  8. Certain private words of the Son to his Father, pleading with him on behalf of the distress he suffers in his body—the Church—because some of his limbs have abandoned justice, and imploring him to fulfill the number of the elect ordained from eternity; how these words are to be understood according to the various qualities of the ages from the origin of the world down to the present.[16]
  9. A mystical description of how the apostles adorned Justice—which they had undertaken from the Lord to preach throughout the world—with manifold vesture, both according to the variety of their own natures and characters and according to the granting of graces poured out upon them from heaven; and in particular on the excellent teaching of the Apostle Paul, and how he was both lifted up by revelation’s sublimity and oppressed by infirmity’s weight.
  10. A brief review of the above—how in these days that have no manly strength, all ecclesiastical institutions are collapsing ever worse; a passage from the Psalmist, where he says, “Just you are, O Lord…” (Ps 118[119]:137), is adduced for this, and how it is to be understood.
  11. Justice’s complaint and cry to God the Judge against those defiled and impious men, tainted by their various crimes, who spurn the ancient institutions of the fathers and abandon Justice, despoiling her of her glorious adornments.
  12. For as God considers these losses of Justice within the unfailing light of his own radiance, he does not forget, even though he does overlook people’s sins because of repentance; his words on the same.
  13. A passage from the Apocalypse of the Apostle John pertain to this, and is to be taken in this sense (Rv 6:11).
  14. Again, the complaint of the Son to the Father about the distress that he suffers in his body from those who kick against him in their malice; and for the little ones who falter from the good by embracing vanity; and though the angels gleam because of their immeasurable radiance, still they gaze in approval upon the deeds of holy people as if upon the mirror of praise.
  15. Justice, moral integrity, and the dignity of the virtues grew stronger through the prophets from the days of the flood until the Lord’s coming, and then they gleamed for a long time in the Church through the apostles and teachers—but though now they are corrupted, after these days that languish in injustice, they will again be reformed among people before the end and after many tribulations.
  16. For when the heavenly Judge once receives Justice’s complaint, he will bring his vengeance upon the transgressors of equity, and in particular upon the wicked leaders of the Church through many disastrous judgments, until, purged by penitence in the trial they have earned, they recover their senses; and thus each rank will be restored to uprightness and returned to the honor of its dignity.
  17. When the ordinance of justice and peace has been settled by God’s vengeance and the correction of transgressors, tranquility will gleam before the Lord’s second coming just as it had before his first, and some part even of the Jews will be converted and will rejoice and confess that he has come whom now they deny.
  18. The words of the prophet Isaiah attesting to the Lord’s first coming (Is 4:2),[17] which will be most especially fulfilled in his second coming with the illumination of the Jews, who, blinded by the stumbling block of Christ, with his suffering withered away from the viridity of the faith and good works.
  19. The words of Christ the Lord himself that he spoke in answer to those lamenting him as he was being lead to his death, concerning the green and dry wood; and how they ought to be understood (Lk 23:31).
  20. Because of the restoration of Justice, the various ranks of the Church will enjoy for a brief time in the next-to-last days both a great plenty of temporal things and a great abundance of spiritual goods, while that portion of the Jews and heretics who persist in evil will exult with pernicious presumption at the Antichrist’s impending arrival.
  21. But because people attribute this quiet peacetime and fruitful abundance to themselves and not to God and meet once more with lethargy when it comes to religion, so many tribulations will again follow as have never before seethed within the world.
  22. The words of David from Psalm 21, in the person of Christ and the Church denouncing the persecutions of the wicked, and how they are to be understood (Ps 21:19[22:18]).
  23. Again, the plea of the Son to the Father for the liberation of his body, which is the Church.
  24. For in that time, when the Christian people has been driven to repentance and exhausted by many afflictions for their sins, divine grace will come to their aid through many miracles, just as it once did for God’s people of old; and after their enemies are subdued, it will join a great multitude of the pagans to their faith.
  25. In those days, as the Roman Emperors fall away from their pristine strength, the imperial power in their hands will over a short time diminish and fail, and even the mitre of the apostolic office will be divided, and different masters or archbishops will replace the others in various places.
  26. Again, in that time, after wickedness has been put down and justice revived, honorable discipline and the laws of ancient customs will spring forth anew and be observed, and there will be many prophets and the hidden things of the Scriptures will lie open to the wise—nevertheless, everywhere heresies will bubble up to declare that the Antichrist’s coming is near.
  27. On the kind of judgments of the divine power that are to be manifested near the end of the world, especially because then a very great portion of humanity will abandon the integrity of the catholic faith and be converted to the son of perdition.
  28. On the conception and origin of the Antichrist—filled up from the very beginning with a diabolical spirit and kept hidden and raised in secluded places, he will be imbued by all the magical crafts until he reaches the age of manhood; both in the world and in the Church, there will be in those days a great disturbance and uncertainty of both affairs and the seasons.
  29. A passage from Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians declaring the end of the world and the coming, works, and judgment of the Antichrist (2 Thes 2:2-4), and how it ought to be understood.
  30. The ancient enemy, who conquered the first man by seducing him, only to be conquered by Christ the Man, will assume that he can again win through another man, and so flood the Antichrist (with God’s just permission) with all his malice and press upon him to fight against the catholic faith and destroy Christ’s teaching.
  31. Why the Antichrist is called by the Apostle, “the man of sin” and “the son of perdition” (2 Thes 2:3), and a passage from John’s Apocalypse pertaining to this, and how it is to be understood (Rv 13:8); the devil has his followers in both the Old and New Testaments, and he deceives the former through idols and the latter through heretics.
  32. On the signs and portents and storms that he will do through the magical crafts, and how, pretending to die and resurrect himself, he will cause to be inscribed upon the foreheads of his followers a scripture invented by the devil’s treachery, so that once deceived by it, they will not suffer ever again to be torn away and separated from him.
  33. God’s promise concerning the restoration of Enoch and Elijah, and what is happening to them in the meantime, and how, when they are restored, they will dwell among humans, and how greatly they will shine with the power of their preaching and miracles against the Antichrist; but when they are martyred by him, they will depart from this world with countless others, and the number of the blessed martyrs will be brought to the fullness of its proper perfection (cf. Rv 2:11).
  34. Again, the plea of the Son to the Father in the showing of his wounds, commending humankind to him, that he should spare them, and exhorting humans to bend their knees to the Father, that he might have mercy on them.
  35. When in the eyes of all Enoch and Elijah are raised from the dead and lifted to the clouds, the resurrection of the dead will be in all ways confirmed, and the ancient serpent will be roused through the son of perdition into the greatest furor against God and the saints.
  36. When that evil one, now revealed in all his presumption as the throng of people stands by and listens, commands the upper elements to receive him as he goes into heaven, he will be slain by a spirit from mouth of the Lord Jesus, according to the Apostle’s witness (2 Thes 2:8); those who see this will abandon their error and be converted to the true faith, and so the devil’s pride will be utterly laid to waste.
  37. For after the Antichrist’s fall, the glory of the Son of God will be magnified, and all who believe in him will praise him with humble voice; and a passage from John’s Apocalypse pertains to this, and is to be taken in this sense (Rv 12:10-11).
  38. The epilogue of this book, in which with heavenly voice praise is loosed to God for his work—that is, for the restoration of humankind—and this little work, together with its author, is eagerly commended to God and his faithful.[18]

Footnotes


[1] There is a discrepancy in the numbering of the following chapters between the chapter titles (the first number) and the main text of the Ghent manuscript (the second number, in brackets); the ordering of chapters found in the summaries was adopted in the Lucca manuscript, and thus also in Migne. 
[2] “passage”: throughout this translates testimonium, lit. “testimony” or “witness.” 
[3] “celestial bodies”: planete. Because Hildegard uses this term to refer not only to the other planets of the solar system but also to the sun and moon, I have chosen not to use the cognate term “planet,” in order to avoid confusion for the modern reader. 
[4] “and left”: levoque; this may indicate that Hildegard did not author the chapter titles, as she prefers the adjective sinister to mean “left”. 
[5] “Maker”: opifice (from opifex), a term never used by Hildegard in the text, appearing only in the chapter titles. 
[6] I.e the upper circles are the elemental ones of fire, ether, and water, and the first and third of these are paired sets: the bright and black fire, and the watery and strong, bright white air. 
[7] ratio: here and almost everywhere else in her text, Hildegard uses instead the term racionalitas, “rationality.” 
[8] “lustful desires”: concupiscentiis: so translated throughout. 
[9] veneria exudatione: this may refer either to the liquid secretions of sexual activity (semen and vaginal fluid), or more generally to the sweat induced by the physical exertion; Derolez and Dronke note (LDO, p. 15) that “it is uncertain whether this expression can be attributed to Hildegard,” as it is rather more explicit than Hildegard’s own, allusive text. 
[10] qui cavernosi sunt nec medullam habent: I have emended the text to coincide with the actual meaning of Hildegard’s text, as the summary author appears to have misunderstood what Hildegard wrote in I.4.41: Dentes etenim hominis cavernati non sunt nec molliciem medulle habent, “Furthermore, a person’s teeth are neither hollow nor filled with the softness of marrow.” The representative “virtue and strength” of the teeth relies on their hardened solidity, which cavities would undermine. This is one more significant piece of evidence that Hildegard did not author the chapter summaries. 
[11] In Hildegard’s text, the explication of the edifice comes in ch. 11, with ch. 12 beginning with the avenue. 
[12] The Ghent manuscript reads, Item uerba David in Psalmo XXVIII apostoli et doctrine consona; I have emended apostoli (singular) to apostolorum, while ignoring the et; the Lucca corrector was similarly stumped by this phrase, and emended to, Item uerba David in Psalmo XXVIII prophete, apostoli et doctores consona uoce, “Again, the prophets, apostles, and doctors [declare?] with harmonious voice the words of David in Psalm 28.” Hildegard’s explication invokes the teachings of both the prophets and the apostles, but the Lucca emendation (so also in Mansi/Migne) does not follow the summary author’s normal pattern for summarizing Hildegard’s exegesis. 
[13] Cf. Mt 18:4—a scriptural allusion added by the summary author and not found in Hildegard’s text. 
[14] The Ghent manuscript reads merely, unicum suum, which was later emended in the Lucca manuscript to the more sensical, unicum filium suum
[15] Of the phrase, cum eleganti expositione, Derolez and Dronke note in their apparatus, “This expression could hardly have come from Hildegard herself.” 
[16] This speech of the Son to the Father comes from the final chorus of Hildegard’s morality play, Ordo Virtutum; it receives further explication and amplification in chs. 12, 14, 23, and 34. 
[17] In Hildegard’s main text, the verse from Isaiah is at the close of ch. 17, with explication in ch. 18. 
[18] In the Riesenkodex, Hildegard adds an actual Epilogue beyond this final chapter, as a memorial to Volmar (who died just before the work’s completion) and in thanks to those who helped her thereafter, including Abbot Ludwig of St. Eucharius in Trier, and her nephew, Wezelin, provost of St. Andreas in Cologne. 

5 comments:

  1. It's wonderful to see how so much care has been taken in translating the (complete) Latin manuscript in English. I can't wait to read the English version. The illustrations are indeed beautiful. Keep up the great work!
    Anne-Marie Hanssens-De Boeck, (Belgian citizen)

    ReplyDelete
  2. After reviewing in detail your impressive outline,I can't wait to order the book in 2018.
    God bless you and your work
    Tom
    AFISHN

    ReplyDelete
  3. Can I have permission to link to this page and give the sequence, in my book, Mary's Dowry, to be published this year by Analecta Cartusiana?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You may, indeed! (But what do you mean by, "sequence"? If you this Society's edition of pieces in Hildegard's Symphonia, then the answer is also yes, as all of those entries are licensed under Creative Commons, with attribution to the ISHBS and the specific authors, i.e. myself and Beverly Lomer.)

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