Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Elizabeth McCahill

Second Advisor

Olivia Weisser

Third Advisor

Alexander Mueller


Within Hildegard of Bingen’s long career as an abbess, one event stands out as particularly unusual: when she decided, at the age of fifty-two, to uproot her small female community from the confines of the St. Disibod monastery in order to establish a new convent at Mount St. Rupert. Hildegard’s move to Mount St. Rupert is one of many interesting events within her complex life, but what makes it particularly remarkable is that she successfully employed her spiritual authority to contest the control of the monks of St. Disibod to create a new religious community. It deserves to be studied not only because it highlights aspects of her authority and theology, but because it allows for important connections to be made between her theology and her practical role as an abbess. It is the purpose of this thesis to investigate how Hildegard was able to secede from St. Disibod, explore her possible underlying theological motivations for doing so, and examine her unique practices as abbess of Mount St. Rupert. By doing this, I will argue that Hildegard’s move to Mount St. Rupert indicates significant elements of her authority and theological thought, particularly as a reformer, and that these elements can be seen behind her decision to found Mount St. Rupert because it was a place where she could implement the pedagogical messages at the heart of her theological writings.


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