life of the life of every creature,
holy are you in giving life to forms.
Rivers spring forth from the waters
earth wears her green vigor.
–Hildegard of Bingen.
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.
- 8 nights lodging in the Hildegard Forum Hotel with breakfast daily
- 7 lunches and 5 dinners
- Private van transport on our three outing days to Hildegard sites
- Ritual, teaching, and guidance from Betsey Beckman and Christine Valters Paintner
- Retreat days with creative exploration and integration each morning and time for quiet exploration in the afternoons
- A fabulous and intimate community of monks and pilgrims
- Access to the Hildegard of Bingen online self-study retreat as a part of your preparation
- A list of recommended reading
Book of Days
subject to modifications and inspirations as needed due to weather, etc.
September 11, 2021: Crossing the Threshold onto Pilgrimage
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.
September 12, 2021: Viriditas and the Greening Life Force
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.
September 13, 2021: Nourishing Roots
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.
September 14, 2021: Body and Soul
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.
September 15, 2021: The Flowering Gifts of Midlife
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.
September 16, 2021: Holy Wisdom and the Virtues
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.
September 17, 2021: Hildegard's Feast Day
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.
September 18, 2021: Sacred Embodiment and the Divine Feminine
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.
September 19, 2021
Departure in the morning.
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.
priced per person
priced per person
Balance of Payment Due Dates
The final balance is due by March 11, 2021
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.
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!
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.
Policies and FAQs
Where is the Hildegard Forum Hotel located?
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.
What is the weather like?
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.
What is included with the meals?
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.
What payment forms do you accept?
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.
What happens if I have to cancel my participation?
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.
What happens if the organizers have to cancel the pilgrimage?
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.
Will you match me with a roommate?
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.
How do I best prepare for this time?
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.
What is the best way to get to Bingen?
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
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 2020 and 2021 we have chosen three companies to support. You are invited to consider making an additional contribution yourself if you are able.
Your Guides for the Journey
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE is the online abbess of Abbey of the Arts, a global community serving thousands of monks, artists, and mystics who are hungry to integrate contemplative practice and creative expression. Christine is also the author of eleven nonfiction books on monastic spirituality and creativity, as well as a poet who has been published in several journals. She has lived on the wild west coast of Ireland for the last five years, falling always more in love with the place. Her latest book The Soul's Slow Ripening: 12 Celtic Practices for Seekers of the Sacred was published by Ave Maria Press in fall 2018. You can find out more about Christine here or see more of the books she has written here.
Betsey Beckman, MM, is nationally acclaimed as a spirited dancer, storyteller, teacher of SpiritPlay and dancing Spiritual Director. With her extensive repertory of sacred storydances, she is regularly featured as artist/presenter at national conventions as well as local churches. She earned her Masters in Ministry degree from Seattle University, her certificate in Movement Therapy from the Institute for Transformational Movement, and is a certified InterPlay leader. As dancer, choreographer, author, mother, wife, teacher and spiritual director, she is passionate about living life fully and fostering creativity in all those with whom she shares life and ministry. Betsey’s publications include books, recordings, and The Dancing Word series of DVDs on embodied prayer. She offers the gift of playful improvisation whenever possible! Find out more about her work at her website: The Dancing Word.