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Guibert of Gembloux
In 1173, Hildegard’s long-time secretary, father confessor and close friend Volmar died.
„Sadness perforated my body and soul, because I was an orphan in this world after this man was taken away from me“
as she described her feelings. As if the pain about Volamr’s death alone was not enough, new disputes with the monks of Disibodenberg arose under the Abbot Helengerus. The monks refused to send a monk as provost and minister for the nuns, as was agreed in the certificate. In Hildegard, however, he had a confident opponent, despite her age of 75, who was never afraid of asking the highest authorities for help. She wrote a letter to Pope Alexander II and described the situation, as a result of which the Pope supported her and her monastery. Now, the Abbot had to give in and sent monk Gottfried to the Rupertsberg in 1174.
However, Gottfried died in 1175 or at the beginning of 1176. Today he is known as one of the biographers of Hildegard. After his death, Hildegard was faced with the same problem as in 1173. Abbot Helengerus again said he could not send her a provost. Probably this really was the case, because the number in his convent seemed to have decreased more and more. Thus until 1177, Hildegard’s brother Hugo, who was cathedral choirmaster in Mainz, and a Canon from St. Stephan in Mainz supported her.
In the last two years of her life, in Guibert of Gembloux she found a supporter who had already venerated her before that time.
Already in 1175, he had contacted Hildegard with a letter and received some of her writings. In 1177, he then received the approval that he was longing for to visit the Abbess, who he called prophetissa teutonica, for a longer time period. Hildegard seemed to have more than fulfilled his expectations:
„And now I stay with her in the beautiful atmosphere of peace and happiness and delight. I am guided through her advice, strengthened by her prayer, sustained by her merits, supported by her goodwill and refreshed daily by her conversations,“
he wrote to a friend. Similar to us today, he could not believe the workload she had to carry at her age.
„She gives the requested advice, answers difficult questions asked to her, writes books, teaches her sisters, helps sinners who come to her to set on their feet again, and is fully occupied by this.“
Soon, his Abbot wanted him back in his monastery again, but the bishops of Cologne and Liège who were present by coincidence, supported Hildegard and Guibert. He took over the office of provost and supported Hildegard as secretary. Only after her death did he return to Gembloux in 1180, where he was elected Abbot in 1194.