Nun Pareil

She's called St. Hildegard Von Bingen, although she flunked canonization three times--once in the 12th century and twice in the 13th century. Now she is a lady for the millennium. Or so say fans of the 12th century Benedictine nun, whose 900th birthday will be celebrated in an ecumenical "Techno Mass" in Oakland on March 15 that is expected to attract followers from throughout the state.

Most of Hildegard's theological texts, medical and scientific treatises, biographies, art, poems, plays, prophecies and music (77 choral works and an opera that one biographer claimed "would make Jimi Hendrix cry") were buried by the male-dominated church after her death.

"Through prejudice, the world has missed much of women's creativity and genius, and Hildegard is a perfect example," says Mary Ford-Grabowsky, vice president and academic dean of the University of Creation Spirituality, which is sponsoring the Mass at We the People (former Gov. Jerry Brown's organization) Auditorium in Oakland.

She says feminist academics rediscovered Hildegard's music in the late 1960s, and interest in the mystic nun has mushroomed, California being a leader in the Hildegard resurgence with clubs, workshops and a planned music and bookstore in Los Angeles. Her music has put her on the Billboard charts twice, including "11,000 Virgins: Chants for the Feast of St. Ursula," by Anonymous 4, a classical bestseller since September.

"We know Hildegard would have a lot to say about society as we near the end of our millennium," says Matthew Fox, a former Catholic priest, now Episcopalian, who started the University of Creation Spirituality 20 years ago in Chicago.

The free Mass will be held at 7 p.m. at 200 Harrison St., Oakland. For more information, call (510) 835-4827

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