Alice von Hildebrand, Catholic Philosopher and Author, Dies at the age of 98

Catholic philosopher and professor Alice von Hildebrand died Jan.14 at the age of 98.

“With sadness suffused by joy, I write to share that ou beloved friend and sister Alice von Hildebrand went home to the Lord at 12:25am this morning.” “She died peacefully at home after a brief illness” wrote Hildebrand Project Founder and President John Henry Crosby in a Jan. 14 death announcement.

“Those who knew Lily often heard her say that the wick of her candle was growing ever shorter. In fact, she yearned for death – to see the face of our Lord, to be reunited at last with her husband Dietrich, her parents, her dearest friend Madeleine Stebbins – with the peace that only true innocence and profound faith can grant.”

Von Hildebrand was born Alice Jourdain in Belgium in 1923. She fled Europe during World Was II, arriving in New York city in 1949. Soon after, she met reknowned personalist philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand. She recalled being immediately impressed by Dietrich’s dedication to truth and wisdom.

“The moment he opened his mouth, I knew that it was what I was looking for: the perfume of the supernatural, the radiant beauty of truth, the unity of all value: truth, beauty, and goodness,” von Hildebrand wrote in her 2014 autobiography, Memoirs of a Happy Failure.

She was a philosphy student of Dietrich’s for several years before the pair were married in 1959.

Von Hildebrand spent the majority of her career teaching philosophy at Hunter College in New York City, beginning in 1947. Though she described the secular college as radically anti-Catholic, von Hildebrand was well-liked among her students and even inspired several of them to conversion.

“In secular universities, the phrase ‘objective truth’ triggers panic, she wrote in her autobiography. “God said, ‘I know you don’t belong there,’ as my collegues repeated time and again. ‘But I have work for you to do, and you cannot do it on your own. I will help you.'”

In 1984, von Hildebrand retired from Hunter College after 37 years and she was awarded the college’s Presidential Award for excellence in teaching.

Von Hildebrand published several books during her lifetime including the Privilege of Being a Woman and The Soul of a Lion: The Life of Dietrich von Hidebrand. She also wrote countless articles and essays and helped launch the Hildebrand Project to promote her late husband’s work.

She was a frequent contributor to Catholic News Agency, the National Catholic register and made more than eighty appearances on parent company the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).

In 2016, she wrote a passionate article for the register about Mother Angelica highlighting her feminine genius. Writing that she and Mother Angelica were “almost twins,” von Hildebrand reflected on the foundress of EWTN: “Mother Angelica’s amazing life clearly tells us that humility (pauper et inops sum ego) and a heart burning with love can conquer the world.”

“We are grateful for the many contributions she made to Catholic thought and for the many programs she made for EWTN over the years,” said EWTN Chaplain Father Joseph Wolfe. “may she enjoy her eternal reward and the joy of being reunited with her dear husband Dietrich, whom she so admired.”

Alejandro Bermudez, executive director of Catholic News Agency and ACI Prensa, called Hildebrand an “exemplary, happy warrior” for the Church.

“She not only made more than eighty appearances on EWTN, but left probably her most iportant body of essays in the set of articles she wrote exclusively for CNA,” Bermudez said.  You can read her work for CNA here.

In a 2014 interview with CNA, con Hildebrand reflected that her life looked radically different from the one she had expected.

“God has chosen the pattern of my life, the words that come to my mind from my heart are: Misericordia Domini in aeternum cantabo, I will sing the mercies of the Lord forever.”

Sources: National Catholic Register, : Mother Angelica and Alice von Hildebrand, EWTN

Books by Alice von Hildebrand: available at

The Privilege of Being a Woman

Women historically have been denigrated as lower than men or viewed as privileged. Dr. Alice von Hildebrand characterizes the difference between such views as based on whether man’s vision is secularistic or steeped in the supernatural. She shows that feminism’s attempts to gain equality with men by imitation of men is unnatural, foolish, destructive, and self-defeating. The Blessed Mother’s role in the Incarnation points to the true privilege of being a woman. Both virginity and maternity meet in Mary who exhibits the feminine gifts of purity, receptivity to God’s word, and life-giving nurturance at their highest.

Man & Woman: A Divine Invention

In follow-up to her acclaimed Privilege of Being a Woman;, Dr. von Hildebrand expands the discussion to explore how the fullness of human nature is found in the perfect union between man and woman. God chose to create man doubly complex. He made man of both soul and body a spiritual reality and a material reality. To crown this complexity, He created them male and female. Dr. von Hildebrand elucidates the tragic separation that happened with original sin and the consequences of this brokenness in the world today: the distortion of the male and female genius, supernatural blindness, and the triumph of secularism. She explores how this brokenness can be healed by following God s Divine plan for man and woman.

By Love Refined: Letters to a Young Bride

Because of human imperfections, difficulties crop up in marriage, even between people who love each other deeply. You’ll soon find that for this reason, although love is a gift, it must also be learned.

So begins this remarkable book of letters to Julie, a young bride letters that reveal the beauty and importance of high ideals in marriage while teaching you practical tips to help you live up to those ideals daily. You’ll learn how to grow in wisdom and in love as you encounter the unglamorous, everyday problems that threaten all marriages

Memoirs of a Happy Failure

Alice von Hildebrand is a household name to many who know her from her countless EWTN appearances, her  books, and her extensive articles and essays. What is little known is the story of her life, notably the thirty-seven years she spent at Hunter College in New York City. There, despite systematic opposition she left  a mark on a generation of students through her defense of truth with reason, wit, and love. By showing her students how truth fulfills the deepest longings of the heart, she liberated countless students from the oppressive relativism of the day, enabling many of them to find their way to God.

The Soul of a Lion: Dietrich von Hildebrand

Dietrich von Hildebrand, widely regarded as one of the great Catholic philosophers of the 20th century, is well-known for his numerous books, but, until this present work, not much has been known of his remarkable and inspiring life. Written by his wife, Alice, this is a fascinating, moving and, at times, gripping account of a truly great man of the Church who suffered much for the faith. Based on a very long letter Dietrich wrote to his wife late in his life, it tells his story from his glorious youth with a unique intellectual and cultural formation, his conversion to Catholicism, his great passion for truth and beauty, his extensive writing on Christian philosophy and theology, and his steadfast, determined opposition to Nazism that made him a marked man who miraculously escaped execution. A powerful biography of a relentless fighter against injustice, a devoted son of the Church, a man who had the soul of a lion.

The Art of Living

In just over one hundred pages, Dietrich von Hildebrand, with his wife Alice, presents a distinctive view of the virtuous life that begins with reverence, “the mother of all virtues,” and includes chapters on “Faithfulness,” “Goodness,” “Hope,” “The Human Heart,” and many others. The essays that make up this book began as a popular series of radio lectures in 1930s Germany, and their conversational tone comes through in this new edition, which maintains Alice von Hildebrand’s original translation, and updates this beloved work for a new generation of readers. The Art of Living promises to provide clarity, hope, and fresh insights for those seeking to live life more fully, faithfully, and beautifully.


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