As well as providing some further prophetic detail on the Great Apostasy foretold in Scripture (see the earlier post on this subject here), St. Hildegard of Bingen also envisioned a period of renewal after the falling away from the faith:
I saw that Trier at first was adorned among the faithful with the new fire that appeared to the disciples in tongues of fire, so that in its golden faith all its streets were spread with miracles. But now it is hedged in by unstable, squalid morals and with weariness as if it did not know God, and it has been polluted with many other evils. It has been worn out with weariness and no longer enjoys the joy and beauty of its original, honorable institutions. It has become heedless of its many sins. Therefore, fiery vengeance will come upon it from enemies, unless those sins are wiped out by penitence, as happened in the case of Jonah.
Now, the law is neglected by spiritual people, who disdain to teach and do good works. Both the teachers and the prelates are asleep: they have abandoned justice. Therefore, I heard this voice from heaven, saying: O daughter of Sion, your crown will fall from your head, your cloak of increasing riches will shrink, your numbers will be forcibly reduced, and you will be banished from one place to another. Many cities and monasteries will be wrenched away by powerful individuals, and princes will say, “Let us take away from them that iniquity which, through them, is overwhelming the whole world.” And I saw and heard that all these dangers and griefs will befall regions and monasteries because they have turned aside from obedience and other precepts of the law. And I saw that even amidst sins of this kind there are some who will cling to God and will sigh unto Him, just as in the time of Elijah...
Afterward, the justice and judgment of God will arise, and the people will know the discipline and fear of God. There will also be good and just individuals among the spiritual people, who, nevertheless, will remain few in numbers because of their humility, but who, like the hermits, will turn back to the first dawn. And they will do this out of fear for times past that, they will understand, had been pernicious to them....
Then, courageous men will arise and prophesy, and they will gather together all things old and new from the Scriptures and all that has been uttered through the Holy Spirit, and they will adorn their understanding of these things as if with a necklace set with precious jewels. Through their influence and that of other wise people, many of the laity will become virtuous and will live saintly lives.
(Epistolarium II, CCCM 91)
Yet in these days, the Emperors of the Roman office shall fall from the strength by which they once vigorously held the Roman Empire, and they shall become weak in their own glory, so that the imperial power entrusted to their hands for a time by divine judgment shall decrease and fail. For they shall be morally filthy and lukewarm and servile and repulsive, and useless in all things. Though they wish to be honored by the people, they shall not seek the people’s prosperity; and so none will be able to honor or revere them. Wherefore the kings and princes of many peoples, who were at one time subject to the Roman Empire, shall remove themselves from it and suffer no longer to be subject to it. And so the Roman imperial power shall be scattered in weakness. For each nation and every people shall establish then their own king to obey, saying that the spread of Roman imperial power had become more of a burden to them than an honor. But after the imperial scepter has been broken up in this way and is unable to be repaired, then also the mitre of the apostolic office [i.e. the papacy] shall be broken. For because neither princes nor any other men of either the spiritual or the secular order shall then find any good religion in the apostolic title, the dignity of that title shall diminish. They shall prefer other masters and archbishops under other titles and in other areas, so that after it has been diminished by the adjournment of its original dignity, the apostolic see shall in that time maintain only Rome and a few nearby places that still lie under its mitre. These things, moreover, shall come to pass in part because of invasions and warfare; and in part they shall be perfected by the common counsel and consensus of both the spiritual and the secular peoples. These shall declare that each prince ought to defend his kingdom and rule his people, and that each archbishop or other spiritual master ought to constrain those under his supervision to uprightness of discipline, lest they be afflicted thereafter by those evils they had suffered previously by the divine will...
In those days many also shall prophesy and many more shall be wise, so that the secrets of the prophets and the mysteries of the other scriptures in their fullness shall lie open to the wise. Their sons and daughters shall prophesy, just as was foretold many ages before…. They shall also prophesy in the same spirit by which the prophets of old announced the mysteries of God, and in the likeness of the apostles’ teaching, which excelled all human understanding.
(Liber Divinorum Operum III.10.25-26)
St. Hildegard will shortly become a doctor of the Church alongside St. John of Avila on Oct 7th, 2012, and was recently officially canonised as a Catholic saint (although Hildegard was sainted by popular acclaim - as was common during the early Middle Ages, she was never officially canonised by the Church). The work of St. Hildegard is held in the highest regard by Pope Benedict XVI, and the fact that she is being made a doctor of the Church now appears to reflect the fact that the Holy Father believes that we are currently living through the times prophesied by the Sibyl of the Rhine.
In December 2010, the Pope quoted a passage from Hildegard's letters during a rather apocalyptic- themed address, comparing it with the sex abuse scandal in the Church. In this address, the Holy Father also made some references to the reunification of the East and West, as well as alluding to the conversion of England in mentioning his visit to England and the work of Bl. John Henry Newman. It will be worth quoting this address at length below - highlighting some words of interest: