About us

The name of the Scivias Institute derives from the major visionary work of Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), the Scivias. The Latin words "sci vias" mean "know the ways." Taking this name, we relate to the mystical, prophetic, medical, literary, and musical heritage of the " seeress of the Rhine." Yet, her ouevre is not the single content of our program. Rather, her holistic and integrativ approach and her request to know the "ways of God" (scvias Domini) or the "ways of the living light" (scivias lucis) is a challenge for us and our search of a spiritual path today. The foundation of the Scivias Institute for Art & Spirituality is based on this vision.

As a non-profit organization, the Scivias Institute for Art & Spirituality brings together artists, theologians, therapist and all those interested in their own spiritual quest. As a community of leaders and learners in the fields of the arts, of theology and of therapy, we are ecumenical and interreligious. Our intention is to be part of the spiritual movement, to contribute to the academic discourse in mystical theology, and to connect to the contemporary art scene.

The Scivias Institute is located in the Rhine valley between Cologne, Bingen and Bad Kreuznach. "Cologne represents Art, Bingen Mysticism, and Bad Kreuznach Wellness." (Annette Esser) Conferences, retreats, pilgrimages, workshops and other activities predominantely take place in this region. Yet, the Scivias Institute is not merely a regional institution. Teachers and members of the Scivias Institute come from all parts of the world. The Scivias Institute invites all to come to the "land of Hildegard."

Advisory Board

Prof. Chung Hyun Kyung, Associate Professor of Ecumenical Studies at the Union Theological Seminary in New York

Prof. Charlotte Esser, Professorin der Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf

Dr. Hedwig Meyer-Wilmes, Herausgeberin der Reihe 'Theologische Frauenforschung in Europa',Kleve

Prof. Susan Roll, Associate Professor (Program: Liturgy, Sacramental Theology) at the Saint Paul University in Ottawa

Prof. Ursula Rudnick, apl. Professorin am Institut für Theologie und Religionswissenschaften der Leibniz Universität in Hannover

Board of the Scivias Institute
Dr. Annette Esser, Kreuznach (Director)
Martin Meinders, NL (Vice Director)
Eveline Waterboer, Mühlheim/Ruhr (Treasurer)
Heike Hildegard Klaft, Monzingen (Secretary)
Dr. Manja Seelen, Köln (Webmaster, co-opted board member)
Jone van Rees, NL/USA (international coordinator, co-opted board member)

Our story ...

Foundation of the Scivias Institute for Art & Spirituality in Cologne, March 2008
Gruppenbild 2009

The foundation of the "Scivias Institute for Art and Spirituality" is based on a vision by theologian and artist Annette Esser. After her doctoral dissertation on feminist spirituality (2007), rather then giving academic lectures, she thought of holding workshops together with other theologians, artists or psychotherapists. Thus, she envisioned a community of teachers and learners in spirituality & creativity. Based on this, also events should take place.  

Thus in 2008, theologian Dr. Annette Esser and art historian Dr. Manja Seelen founded the Scivias Institute for Art & Spirituality in Cologne in a circle of about 20 colleagues and friends. 

Award for inter-religious engagement in September 2011

In September 2011, Dr. Annette Esser was awarded "Intra-Projektpreis für Komplematarität der Religionen" for her 20 years of engagement in inter-religious dialogue in the Mosque of Duisburg Marxloh. This price of 5000 EURO was given to her explicitly for the further development of the Scivias Institute.

Conference in Bingen in October 2011

In 2011, the Scivias Institute registered as a non-profit Society accordings to German law ("Gemeinnützig anerkannter eingetragener Verein e.V.) and hold a conference at the Rupertsberg in Bingen, thai is the very site where Hildegard of Bingen had founded her Women's Monastery in 1150. 

In the same year, Dr. Annette Esser got awarded with an inter-religious price for her 20 year-long engagement in inter-religious dialogue. The prize-money could be invested in building up the Scivias-office.   

International Conference at Hildegard-Forum in Bingen, October 2012

Due to the canonization and promotion of Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) as Doctor of the Church (Doctor Ecclesiae Universalis), the Scivias Institute organized its first International Conference. Prof. Susan Roll gave the inaugural address that is published in German:

Susan Roll, "Warum gerade jetzt? Hildegard von Bingen als Kirchenlehrerin", in Annette Esser (ed.), Die Kirchenlehrerin Hildegard von Bingen, Berlin 2015, p.99-116). We hope to it in English on this website in the Rubric "Hildegard of Bingen"

Hildegard Pilgrimage 2014

In 2014, we had our first Hildegard Pilgrimage with three Catholic sisters from Australia and one American professor from Canada... Even though, we wer a small group, this pilgrimage that guided us from Cologne along the river Rhine to Bingen and deep into the land of Hildegard, was just wonderful. It was full of site-seeing, learning, wellness and meditation.

Hildegard Pilgrimage 2015

This Hildegard pilgrimage was planned in cooperation between Dr. Annette Esser, Scivias Institute, and Prof. Chung Hyung Kyung, Union Theological Seminary, New York. It started July 27 in Cologne and ended on August 9, 2015, in the "land of Hildegard" near Bingen. We had pilgrims from America, Korea and Australia.

Sr. Caroline wrote a good report about the pilgrimage. (see below)

Second International Conference 2016
gruppenbild 2016

In 2016, we had our Second International Hildegard Conference on Hildegard's intersting notion of "Viriditas - Grünkraft - Green Power of life". The conference took place at various sites in Bingen, Disibodenberg and Eibingen. A group of Canadian students of Saint Paul's Iniversity, Ottawa, who just had been on a Hildegard Study Tour along the Rhine, joined the conference.

Opening-celebration for the new Hildegard of Bingen Pilgrimage Route on September 9, 2017 at the Disibodenberg
opening celebration 2017

Since 2014, the Scivias Institute organizes pilgrimages in the historic land between the Rhine and the Nahe where Hildegard had lived in the 12th century and where the Institute is situated.

Thanks to Annette's political engagement, a new route for Hildegard pilgrimage was installed between Idar-Oberstein and Bingen. The Naheland-Touristik (new cooperation-partner of the Scivias Institute since December 2017), is the executive organization of thís project that is supported by the European Union financially. As an Hildegard-expert, Annette Esser has also designed the concept for this path consisting of 60 tableaus: 32 contain information on the historic sites and on Hildegard's major mystical, medical and musical works; and 27 meditation tableaus follow Hildegards major mystical work, the Liber Scivias itself, thereby presenting questions pilgrim's reflection. The landmark-signs and tableaus are already out on the 140km path in the landscape with German and English texts. A Pilgrimage Book (Pilgerbuch) is already published in the German language. As we are working hard on an English edition as well, English-speaking pilgrims may already find some articles in the rubric "Hildegard of Bingen" on this website.  

Also already on the website are dates for international Hildegard Pilgrimages in the English language guided by Annette Esser starting in 2019.

Related organizations and cooperation partners