The Book of Divine Works


Liber Divinorum Operum (The book of divine works), which Hildegard von Bingen began composing in 1163‒64 and finished in 1172‒74, is the last of her three great works of visionary theology. It was preceded by her best-known work, Scivias (Know the ways, composed in 1142–51), and Liber Vitae Meritorum (Book of life's merits, composed in 1158–63). In each of these works, Hildegard (1098‒1179) describes the often strange and enigmatic visions she received, which she then follows with an explanatory commentary pronounced by the voice of God. The manuscript presented here is one of three transcriptions of the work, and the only illuminated manuscript. It can be dated to between the second and third decades of the 13th century. The manuscript is in Gothic handwriting in two columns of 38 lines on each page, with hard point ruling. It has ten full-page miniatures, each of which marks the start of one of the ten visions in the work. Titles, summaries, and the incipit and explicit of each vision are in red ink; sections of text begin with red and blue initials with frames and illuminated initials. Pages are numbered within each vision in the side margins in red and blue Roman numerals. The manuscript has marginal notes in various hands, some of which were partly removed due to the trimming of the pages of the codex. Now held in the State Library of Lucca, the codex came originally from the monastery of the Clerics Regular of the Mother of God in Lucca. The manuscript underwent conservation treatment in 1936. Hildegard von Bingen was a Benedictine abbess and mystic, also known as the Sybil of the Rhine. She was born in Bockelheim, Germany, and founded Rupertsberg Convent near Bingen in around 1147. One of the first of the great German mystics, she is known for her music, poetry, and theological visions, which have remained popular over the centuries. Hildegard was canonized and named a doctor of the church in 2012.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

Liber Divinorum Operum

Type of Item

Physical Description

167 folios : illuminated ; 39 x 25.5 centimeters


  • The visions are: 1) Theophany of Divine Love; 2) The Cosmic Spheres and Human Being; 3) Macrocosm of Winds, Microcosm of Humors; 4) Cosmos, Body, and Soul: The Word Made Flesh; 5) The Earth: Life’s Merits, Purgatory, and Commentary on the Creation; 6) The City of God and the Mirror of the Angels; 7) The city in Salvation History: Creation to Incarnation; 8) The Fountain of God’s Work: Theophany of Divine Love, with Humility and Peace; 9) Wisdom and the Ancient counsel Unfolding in God’s Works; and 10) Divine Love upon the Wheel: Eternity and History.


  1. Nathaniel M. Campbell, “Capitula (Table of contents, or chapter summaries” of the Liber Divinorum Operum: The Book of Divine Works, by St. Hildegard of Bingen. International Society of Hildegard von Bingen Studies.
  2. Saint Hildegard of Bingen, Liber Divinorum Operum: The Book of Divine Works, translated and introduced by Nathaniel M. Campbell (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, forthcoming 2018).

Last updated: December 20, 2017