The paintings in the arches of the northern (left) side wall of the nave are dedicated to the Abbey’s patron, St Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). As Fr Paulus Krebs considered himself the „painter of St Hildegard“, the paintings were executed with a special love and devotion. The five-part cycle of pictures shows important scenes from the life of the saint. Viewed from back to front these are:
1) St Hildegard goes to St Jutta to Disibodenberg. At the age of 14, Hildegard was sent to Jutta of Sponheim for education. From then on she lived with her in a cell, which was adjoining the monastery of Disibodenberg. During the course of the years the cell developed into a convent. At the age of 15 Hildegard took her vows. Later, after Jutta’s death, she was elected to be the spiritual mother of the community.
2) St Hildegard moves to Rupertsberg. In the year 1150 Hildegard of Bingen moved from Disibodenberg to Rupertsberg, where a larger house had been built on her instructions. Rupertsberg became her real monastic home – this is where she wrote her main visionary works. From here she founded the convent at Eibingen.
3) St Hildegard speaks to the Emperor Barbarossa at Ingelheim. Hildegard was not only an abbess and a prophetess, but also an advisor to many of her contemporaries. She corresponded extensively with well known and lesser known influential persons, and also went on several journeys in order to teach and to give advice. Up-river on the left bank of the Rhine at Ingelheim, the Emperor Barbarossa held court while his army was encamped there. He wished to meet the famous abbess. It is not known in detail what exactly the two discussed. But it is certain that the Emperor was obviously favourably inclined towards Hildegard and her monastery, and he issued a letter of safe-conduct for her in 1163.
4) St Hildegard founds the monastery at Eibingen and heals a blind boy in Rüdesheim. St Hildegard’s fame led more and more young women to the convent at Rupertsberg. But this house had originally been built for only 50 nuns.Soon it was too small and in the year 1165 Hildegard purchased the former Augustinian double monastery in Eibingen near Rüdesheim in order to re-settle the site. Hildegard remained abbess at Rupertsberg, but crossed the Rhine to Eibingen twice a week with a small boat. On one of these occasions she is said to have restored sight to a blind boy by moistening his eyes with Rhine water.
5) Signs appearing in the heavens on the death of St Hildegard. St Hildegard of Bingen died on the morning of September 17th, 1179. According to tradition, a wonderful light shone in the sky after her death, with a red shimmering cross being seen in the bright light.
The wall paintings in the side aisle are also dedicated to St Hildegard as well as other important women saints of the Benedictine order. Above the sacristy door on the eastern wall St Hildegard herself is shown with a quill in her right hand. Opposite, on the western wall, five holy women can be seen: Margareth of Rupertsberg, Hiltraud of Rupertsberg, Jutta of Sponheim, Ida of Rupertsberg and Elisabeth of Schönau. All five saints are stylized and have evenly proportioned faces. On the long wall between the windows more paintings of holy Benedictine women can be found.
They too, are not painted in a historically realistic way, but rather stylized, as a sign that the artist was not concerned with historical religious painting, but with symbolic character and its message of faith. On leaving the church one notices an inscription above the main door. This is dedicated in gratitude to the founder of the convent and builder of the church and monastery, Prince Karl zu Löwenstein. He laid the foundation to something still bearing rich fruit to this day. Every year many thousands of pilgrims and visitors come to the Abbey Church of St Hildegard. They come to Eibingen following the footsteps of the great saint and to praise God together with the nuns of the Abbey.