Hildegard of Bingen and the Living Light

Published: Tuesday 19th May 2015

As part of the ACU 25th Anniversary celebrations, Hildegard of Bingen was brought to life by international mezzo soprano Linn Maxwell, over a three-week tour to Ballarat, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane.

 The “fiercest woman since Boadicea” is a most apt description for one of the most influential female consecrated figures in history - Hildegard of Bingen.

Linn Maxwell, a Michigan local, has performed on stages with major orchestras including the Chicago Symphony and Berlin Radio Orchestras. Her operatic engagements include the Cincinnati Opera, the Hungarian State Opera and recitals across the United States and 28 foreign countries. 

Through Linn's uniquely crafted set, audiences were able to travel back in time to the 12th Century and gain an insight into the life of the infamous abbess. Linn embodied the German saint’s talents as healer, composer and prophetess, with audiences finding the show incredibly informative and captivating. The backdrop of the campus chapels at Canberra and Melbourne allowed for an intimate experience, while the soaring  acoustics provided by the cathedrals in Ballarat, Sydney and Brisbane further enhanced Linn Maxwell’s remarkable operatic talent.

The monologue revolved around the history of the establishment of the Catholic Church during the challenging times of the Crusades in Western Europe, as well as the internal struggles of deceitful Papal authorities, with Hildegard at one point describing the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick as a “juvenile fool”. Linn also shared Hildegard’s own personal beginnings as a child born into a prestigious German family who decided to dedicate herself to her faith.

Linn marked her 98th performance of Hildegard of Bingen at St Stephen’s Cathedral in Brisbane on Friday 8 May.

In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI canonized Hildegard of Bingen and proclaimed her as a Doctor of the Church for her natural approach to holistic healing. This was heavily referred to in the performance.

The Hildegard of Bingen performances were an extraordinary cultural addition to the ACU 25th Anniversary celebrations. Linn Maxwell performing as Hildegard of BingenAudiences numbered 80 in Ballarat, 45 in Melbourne, 110 in Canberra, 200 in Sydney and 100 in Brisbane.  Feedback from staff, students and local communities has been highly appreciative of not only the performance but also of ACU’s generosity in hosting this event.