Hildegard of Bingen and the Greening Power of God: A Pilgrimage in Germany
with Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, OblSB and Betsey Beckman, MM
September 11-19, 2022
ONE TWIN SPACE LEFT (Male)
Join a community of pilgrims in Germany as we experience the landscapes and rhythms that nourished Hildegard of Bingen, mystic, composer, artist, poet, healer, preacher, ecological visionary, and spiritual director. Let Hildegard become a soul guide as you immerse yourself in viriditas, the greening power of God, and embrace the legacy of her creative outpourings as gifts for our time.
Through presentations, contemplative practices in sacred spaces, community, and creative forms (including movement, music, writing, and visual art) Christine and Betsey will guide you in exploring how the paths of the monk and artist, which Hildegard so firmly embraced, can become doorways to our own soul’s deepening and the greening power of the Divine Presence in our lives.
Book of Days
Arrival and Orientation: We begin with retreat welcome and introductions. An evening orientation and session on pilgrimage invites you to intentionally begin with a slowed pace to help you arrive and ground in this beautiful setting and experience the landscape that nourished Hildegard’s life. Dinner included.
Retreat Day: On our first “retreat” day at the hotel, we will gather in community to set into motion our monastic rhythm for creative and contemplative explorations inspired by themes from Hildegard’s life. We will explore Hildegard’s keen insights into the greening power of God. Through art and prayer practices we will tend together the juicy gifts of viriditas, the creative life-giving force at the heart of everything alive, and at the heart of Hildegard’s soul and work.
As the pilgrimage continues, we will keep this rhythm of art and prayer on each of our “retreat” days, exploring practices such as lectio divina (which originates in the Benedictine tradition), movement, chant and song, mandala-making, photography, and writing. There will be free time in the afternoon to walk and explore. Lunch included, dinner on your own.
Disibodenberg: We will go out by private bus to visit Sponheim Church and labyrinth in the morning, which is the birthplace of Jutta, Hildegard’s mentor. In the afternoon we make the pilgrimage to Disibodenberg, the former Benedictine monastery where Hildegard first entered monastic life and spent much of the first half of her life. The site is now an ancient ruin, but the sacredness of this place is still palpable. We will hear stories of Hildegard’s early life, explore the ruins and share a contemplative prayer ritual around the altar there. Lunch and dinner included.
Retreat Day: Hildegard embraced the positive role of the body and the senses in the spiritual life as the doorway to encountering God in the world. Rooted in her Benedictine life, she saw moderation and balance as the heart of thriving physically and spiritually. We’ll explore Hildegard’s theology of the body and some of herbal healing practices. Lunch included, dinner on your own.
Rupertsberg, Eibingen, and Abbey of St. Hildegard: Around the year 1147, Hildegard left Disibodenberg with about twenty of her fellow sisters to found her own monastery, Rupertsberg Abbey, in the town of Bingen on the Rhine River. In the morning, we will tour the Rupertsberg ruins and engage in a ritual in that space. In the afternoon we will cross the river by ferry to visit the current Abbey of St. Hildegard in Eibingen and the parish church where the holy shrine with Hildegard’s relics is kept. Lunch and dinner included.
Retreat Day: Wisdom, or Sapientia, was a key figure in Hildegard’s visions and theology as were the virtues, which she named as the gifts given to us to cultivate our inner greenness. Always appearing as feminine presences, we will explore what Wisdom and the Virtues can offer to us for living in a complex world. We will spend time breaking open Hildegard’s Ordo Virtutum, (one of the first-ever Morality Plays) and share a creative reading/enactment of her drama. Lunch included, dinner on your own.
To celebrate her Feast Day we will join in celebration with Hildegard’s present-day community of sisters and the town of Rudesheim and Eibingen where a procession with her relics through the street is held. We will participate in a special Vespers service at the Abbey. Lunch and dinner included.
Retreat Day: For Hildegard, the incarnation could be said to be more important than salvation. Her theology and practice opens us up to a profound honoring of the sacred present in all creation. Mary and the divine feminine play a central role in being the bearer of this holiness into the world. Through the arts we will also reflect on our experience of the whole pilgrimage and how we might bring the gift of Hildegard’s greening power back to our everyday lives and communities. Our day will close with a final ritual to celebrate and integrate our time together. Lunch and dinner included.
Departure in the morning.
Your Guides for the Journey
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Christine is the director of AbbeyoftheArts.com, a virtual monastery exploring contemplative practice, creative expression, and ways to nourish an earth-cherishing consciousness. She is a spiritual director, teacher, pilgrimage guide, and author of nine books on spirituality and the arts. Her deepest belief is that the earth is the original monastery–a wisdom guide and mentor in living a soulful and vibrant life. Visit the “About Christine” page for more information.
Betsey Beckman, MM
Betsey Beckman, MM fell in love with Hildegard von Bingen in the 1980s when she developed a dance-drama depicting the Abbess’ life story, thereby discovering a spiritual mentor in Hildegard’s embrace of the arts, preaching, and healing practices. Betsey’s own professional and creative practices include dance, storytelling, spiritual direction, movement ministry, and videography. In 2005, Betsey began collaborating with Christine Valters Paintner to develop Awakening the Creative Spirit: Experiential Education in the Arts for Soul-Care Providers. Out of this initial offering grew a book, and the subsequent launching of online courses which eventually became the global virtual community of Abbey of the Arts. Betsey’s skills in playful improvisation blend seamlessly with Christine’s depth of wisdom to create a beautiful duet of depth and expressiveness in their shared leadership. She earned her BA in Theology from Georgetown University, Masters in Ministry from Seattle University, her certificate in Movement Therapy from the Institute for Transformational Movement, and her certificate as InterPlay leader from BodyWisdom.org. Under the umbrella of The Dancing Word, in addition to developing a full repertory of storydances, she has produced 4 CDs and (soon to be) 4 DVDs of song and movement prayers for Abbey of the Arts. She offers the gift of playful improvisation whenever possible.
Choose with Discernment
We want your pilgrimage experience to be soulfully enriching, stretching and challenging in the best ways, radically hospitable, inspiring, and wildly supportive of where you are. If you’re not sure if this program is right for you or your fit with Abbey of the Arts please be sure to review everything here carefully, read more about the Abbey, about Christine and Betsey, about the Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks, subscribe to our email newsletter, read one of Christine’s books, and if you feel a YES rising up within we eagerly welcome you to join us!
If you still have questions please get in touch by email.
When you register you are making a commitment both to yourself as well as to us and the community that forms. We limit participants to a small intimate group, so dropping out affects the group experience and us as small business owners. We know sometimes life intervenes and cancellations happen. Please be clear on our cancellation policy. We are not able to refund the deposit which holds your space, there are no exceptions. But also please be clear on your commitment to this experience.
Pay your nonrefundable €600 deposit and register
The registration fee does not include transport to and from Bingen, Germany (about an hour by train from the Frankfurt airport) or travel insurance which we require you to purchase.
Your credit card will automatically convert the fee into your local currency. To check current rates go to xe.com but know that your bank conversion rates will vary slightly from these.
Your independently purchased travel insurance will protect you in the event of emergency cancellations. To pay by check or if you would prefer to pay in USD$ or by bank transfer please contact us for details.
Registration deadline & final balance is due by March 11, 2022
Steps to Register
1. Please read through this entire page including Policies and FAQs (below) and contact us with any questions or concerns.
2. Go to the Hildegard Pilgrimage Registration page, fill out the requested details and submit payment for your nonrefundable deposit.
3. Sign the Terms and Conditions (click the link to preview them, you will be asked to sign them electronically once your deposit and registration form are completed.) Paying your deposit implies consent to these and all the information on this page.
4. Purchase travel insurance to include trip cancellation (“cancel for any reason” highly recommended), as well as repatriation of remains, medical, and loss of property. We recommend purchasing as soon as you make the deposit. While we can’t make recommendations for specific travel insurance providers, this website can be helpful in comparing different options if you are in the U.S. The coverage is here to give peace of mind as you invest your finances in this grand adventure!
Policies and FAQs
You will need a passport to travel to Germany. U.S. citizens can visit for up to 3 months on an automatic travel visa. EU citizens can enter visa-free. You are responsible for checking with your local German embassy for requirements.
This pilgrimage will require some hiking and walking over rough ground. For the hike to Disibodenberg, you should be able to walk 2-3 miles comfortably over uneven terrain and be able to climb stairs and over things. It does also involve some elevation gain, but we walk relatively slowly for this portion and stop often for prayer stations. Pack sturdy walking shoes and clothing suitable for both cool and warm temperatures, and rain. At Disibodenberg there is no shelter in case of inclement weather.
You will be staying on the Rochusberg (hill) in the town of Bingen. There is a public bus that will take you into town or you can choose an easy 20 minute walk. The Abbey of St. Hildegard is across the Rhine river (a picturesque view from our hotel) and reachable by ferry. Visit the hotel website here.
Bring layers to wear. Germany can be often rainy and cool, but the weather can also get quite warm in summer and early autumn. Best to check the extended forecast before leaving.
Your meal includes a main course/entree. We ask you to indicate your food needs on the registration form. Servings are generally pretty hearty. Beverages, appetizers, and desserts are an additional cost.
You can pay by credit card right from this web page using the buttons above. We also accept checks (we will send you our Ireland mailing address) and payment by bank transfer (we can send the details of our account). If you would prefer to pay the amount directly in USD$, please let us know and we will send you the exchange amount. Know that your bank will convert the fee into your local currency for you.
The €600 deposit is an administrative fee that secures your space in this small pilgrimage and is nonrefundable. There are no exceptions to the refund policy.The balance of the program fee is due six months prior to the program and is nonrefundable after that time.
As mentioned above, we require that you obtain travel insurance to cover financial losses from any personal emergencies or other events which require your cancellation. For the best coverage, we highly recommended you purchase insurance at the time of making your deposit (often preexisting conditions are only covered if insurance is purchased within a few days of making the first trip payment). You are responsible for reading your policy and understanding what it covers.
If there is an emergency which prevents Christine and/or Betsey* from leading the experience, all of your pilgrimage fees paid will be refunded except for the initial deposit, or you can transfer your full payment to a future date. We are also not responsible for any other losses, including your travel expenses which you may incur due to this cancellation. We require that you obtain travel insurance at the time of your booking confirmation to cover this possibility.
*If there is an emergency but one of the scheduled facilitators can still lead the program we will still plan to go ahead if possible.
If you are traveling with a friend or partner, or you would like to be paired with a roommate, you can share a double room for a reduced program fee. Please be advised that if we are unable to find a roommate for you, you will be liable for the single room fee.
Once you say yes, the pilgrimage has already begun! Pay attention to the dreams of your waking and sleeping life in the coming months to see what is being stirred. Christine and Betsey will be sending some suggested reading and reflection. You will also be able to access our Hildegard of Bingen self-study materials to help you prepare.
You will want to fly into the Frankfurt main airport (code: FRA) and from there you can catch a train to Bingen which departs about every half hour and takes about an hour to an hour and a half travel time (depending on whether you board a direct train or one that requires a change in Mainz). In Bingen you will want to hire a taxi up to our hotel. It is also possible to hire a taxi directly from Frankfurt airport to the hotel in Bingen for an additional charge. More specific directions will be sent in March 2021 along with a reminder of the final payment due date.
Travel to Bingen, Germany is not included in your pilgrimage fee.
Carbon Offsets and Travel
Travel has a significant impact on the environment but we also know that travelling with intention as a pilgrim can expand our hearts to ourselves and others in ways that are much needed in our world. The world needs more pilgrims and fewer tourists.
We invite you to be mindful when travelling, and consider taking public transport when you arrive to a country rather than rent a car if possible, and travel by train or public bus if you are going between countries rather than flying.
Abbey of the Arts has made a commitment to contribute a portion of the fees from our pilgrimages and live retreats to carbon offsetting companies that have been certified by third party organizations for their effectiveness. This is in addition to our Earth Monastery work to help nourish an earth-cherishing consciousness, as well as limiting the number of live programs we offer and our own air travel as much as possible. We believe Earth is our original monastery, the source of our contemplative wisdom and creative inspiration. In 2021 and 2022 we have chosen three companies to support. You are invited to consider making an additional contribution yourself if you are able.