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Monday, December 23, 2013

True hand-made Hildegard

The artist Mara Maccari (website) has painted hand-made versions of some of the most beautiful miniatures from St. Hildegard of Bingen's books. As we have already mentioned, herb-healers like Hildegard might be outstanding personages during the Renaissance, even more so than in the Middle Ages in which she lived. Tasso gives these women important roles especially in his Gerusalemme Liberata.

The theological explanations of Hildegard's vision are a later 'appendix' added by the Church authority, i.e. a monk. Na, there was no Vatican conspiracy: the monk, on request, simply and naturally interpreted those images according to his beliefs. But the outcome is quite paradoxical, something like: "Listen! This is a brand new revelation! And it means: God is One in Three Persons, Jesus Christ is the Son of God who became Man, . . ." etc. etc.,  everything that everybody already knew.

So, Mara Maccari can freely reinterpret those images her own way and in her own right. This time, the references are different: esoteric doctrines, especially Rudolf Steiner's, so that, this time, the meaning of Hildegard's vision turns into teachings like: "The state of health, grace, and every miracle is due to the silent work of the soul within the corporeality, since the Soul is always contiguous to the spiritual world and receives substantiality from the planets, which are ruled by the harmony that the Soul succeeds in establishing." And the logical loop takes place once again, because Hildegard now reveals nothing more than what Steiner's followers, etc., already knew. Here's one big question: Is any new revelation actually (linguistically, psychologically, culturally, anthropologically) possible?

But, this Italian artist did something that the interpreters before her didn't: she re-drew the pictures by hand, detail by detail, line by line, color after color, and this let her enter into deeper communion with the Medieval mystic, even beyond the 'explanations' she then added in her turn. Her works, just a little more essential and modern than the original miniatures, are currently on exhibition - until January 21 - in Perugia, Italy, in the rooms of "L'erborista 1975," via Alessi 3.

A tribute to a tribute: