The Role of Womanhood in St. Hildegard’s Medical Practices
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Hildegard of Bingen, a twelfth-century German abbess (1098-1179), was not only a woman of great influence and power during her time, but she was also a female figure who wrote extensively about women – particularly about gender differences, reproductive health, and sexual nature. Gifted with divine visions since childhood, she produced written work ranging from theology, naturalism, philosophy, and medicine, to music, poetry, and cosmology on the basis of these extraordinary dreams. Not surprisingly, then, her idea of womanhood shaped much of her work; she also gave particular attention to holistic care. Holistic care places more emphasis on home life and on emotions, both of which are historically considered part of the feminine sphere. This thesis explores the way in which traditional femininity influenced St. Hildegard's practice of holistic medicine.