Hildegard of Bingen was a preacher at a time when canon law forbade women to preach, a named composer when most music was anonymous, a visionary, a theologian, a writer, an artist, a hagiographer, a prolific letter-writer and an early scientist, botanist, herbalist, physician and healer – she even invented her own coded language. This German Benedictine anchorite who lived in the twelfth century was in the fullest sense a polymath. Yet she was an enclosed nun, until mid-life her only contact with the outside world being through a single window.
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