O Ecclesia celebrates Saint Ursula who, according to legend, was martyred with eleven thousand virgins at Cologne. Ursula, a woman who had rejected an earthly marriage for a heavenly one, who had died in Cologne, and who led a company of Christian women, naturally occupied a special place in Hildegard’s devotion. There were relics of Ursula at Disibodenberg where Hildegard had been raised, and Elisabeth of Schonau (a mystic whom Hildegard knew) created a stir in 1156/7 with her visions of Ursula and her companions. Hildegard does not appear to have been directly influenced by these visions, but this is her most sustained response to a legend that was clearly popular and much in the minds of clerics and laymen.
from notes by Christopher Page © 1982