Dietrich von Hildebrand

Dietrich Richard Alfred von Hildebrand (12 October 1889 – 26 January 1977) was a German Roman Catholic philosopher and theologian.

Hildebrand was called "the twentieth-century Doctor of the Church"[1] by Pope Pius XII. Pope John Paul II also greatly admired the work of Hildebrand, remarking once to his widow, Alice von Hildebrand, "Your husband is one of the great ethicists of the twentieth century." Benedict XVI also has a particular admiration and regard for Hildebrand, whom he knew as a young priest in Munich. The degree of Pope Benedict's esteem is expressed in one of his statements about Hildebrand: "When the intellectual history of the Catholic Church in the twentieth century is written, the name of Dietrich von Hildebrand will be most prominent among the figures of our time."

A vocal critic of the changes in the church brought by the Second Vatican Council, Hildebrand became vice director of Luigi Villa's Chiesa viva ("Living Church")[2] and especially resented the new liturgy: "Truly, if one of the devils in C. S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters had been entrusted with the ruin of the liturgy, he could not have done it better."[3]

Dietrich von Hildebrand
Dietrich von Hildebrand
Born12 October 1889
Florence, Italy
Died26 January 1977 (aged 87)
New Rochelle, New York, United States
Alma materUniversity of Munich
University of Göttingen
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Main interests


Born and raised in Florence, in the Kingdom of Italy, Hildebrand grew up in a German household, the son of sculptor Adolf von Hildebrand and Irene Schäuffelen, who lived in a former Minim friary. He received his early education from private tutors. Although raised in a home without religion, Hildebrand developed a deep belief in Jesus at a very young age.[4]

Sent to Munich at the age of fifteen for his Abitur, Hildebrand enrolled at the University of Munich two years later, where he joined a circle of students who first followed the philosopher Theodor Lipps but soon were swayed by the teachings of Edmund Husserl. Through this circle he came to know Max Scheler. Because of Scheler's writings Hildebrand converted to Catholicism in 1914. In 1909 he attended the University of Göttingen, where he completed his doctorate in philosophy under Husserl and Adolf Reinach, whom he later credited with shaping his own philosophical system.[4]

In 1912, he married Margaret Denck, and with her had one child, Franz.

In 1913 Hildebrand went to Rome to attend the First Communion of one of his sisters, in a ceremony held in the Catacombs of Callixtus. The following year he and his wife were received into the Catholic Church. Upon the outbreak of the First World War Hildebrand was drafted into service as a physician's assistant in Munich, serving as a kind of surgical nurse.[4]

Hildebrand published his first book, Die Idee der Sittlichen Handlung, in 1916, and two years later, after the war had ended, was given a teaching position at the University of Munich, eventually gaining an assistant professorship there in 1924. By then he had published another work, Sittlichkeit und Ethische Werterkenntniss (1921).[4]

When Hitler came to power in 1933 Hildebrand, a vocal opponent of Hitler and Nazism, fled Germany, going first to Italy, and then to Vienna. There, with the support of the Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, he founded and edited an anti-Nazi weekly paper, Der Christliche Ständestaat ("The Christian Corporative State"). For this, he was sentenced to death in absentia by the Nazis.

Hildebrand was once again forced to flee when Hitler annexed Austria in 1938. He spent eleven months in Switzerland, near Fribourg. He then moved to Fiac in France, near Toulouse, where he taught at the Catholic University of Toulouse. When the Nazis invaded France in 1940 he went into hiding; after many hardships, and the heroic assistance of Frenchmen, including Edmond Michelet and the American journalist Varian Fry, he was able to escape to Portugal with his wife, their son Franz, and their daughter-in-law. From there they travelled by ship to Brazil and then on to New York City, arriving in 1940. There he taught philosophy at the Jesuit Fordham University on Rose Hill in the Bronx where he then mentored renowned Catholic author and philosophy professor Ronda Chervin.[5]

Hildebrand's wife Alice revealed that Bella Dodd, a friend of the Hildebrands who reverted to Catholicism in April 1952, had confessed privately to them and also publicly at a conference in Orange, California that she had assisted with a communist infiltration of Catholic seminaries.[6]

Hildebrand retired from teaching in 1960, spending the remaining years of his life writing dozens of books in both German and English. He was a founder of Una Voce America. In 1957 his wife of forty-five years died, and in 1959 he married Alice M. Jourdain, also a philosopher and theologian who was a student of his at Fordham University.[6]

Hildebrand died in New Rochelle, New York in 1977, after a long struggle with a heart condition.

Partial bibliography

  • Marriage: The Mystery of Faithful Love (1929)
  • Metaphysics of Community (1930)
  • In Defense of Purity: An Analysis of the Catholic Ideals of Purity and Virginity (Longmans, Green and Co., 1931, Hildebrand Project, 2018)
  • Actual Questions in the Light of Eternity (1931)
  • The Essence of Philosophical Research and Knowledge (1934)
  • Liturgy and Personality (Longmans, 1943, Hildebrand Project, 2017)
  • Transformation in Christ (Longmans, 1948)
  • Fundamental Moral Attitudes (Longmans, 1950)
  • Christian Ethics (McKay, 1952)
  • The New Tower of Babel (P. J. Kenedy, 1953)
  • Ethics (Franciscan Herald Press, 1953)
  • True Morality and Its Counterfeits, with Alice M. Jourdain (McKay, 1955)
  • Graven Images: Substitutes for True Morality, with Alice M. Jourdain (McKay, 1957)
  • Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert (J. Habbel, 1961)
  • Not as the World Gives; St. Francis' Message to Laymen Today (Franciscan Herald Press, 1963)
  • The art of living, with Alice von Hildebrand (Franciscan Herald Press, 1965; Hildebrand Project, 2017)
  • Man and Woman: Love & the Meaning of Intimacy, (Franciscan Herald Press, 1966)
  • Morality and Situation Ethics, (Franciscan Herald Press, 1966)
  • Love, Marriage, and the Catholic Conscience: Understanding the Church's Teachings on Birth Control
  • The Trojan Horse in the City of God: The Catholic Crisis Explained (Franciscan Herald Press, 1967)
  • The encyclical Humanae vitae, a sign of contradiction; an essay on birth control and Catholic conscience, (Franciscan Herald Press, 1969, Hildebrand Project, 2018)
  • Villa, Luigi, ed. (1971). "Moratorium With The Devil" (PDF). Chiesa viva. Brescia (4): 4–5. Retrieved 2018-07-01. – Via Star of the Stormy Sea (Quarterly newsletter). Oconomowoc: The Apostolate of Our Lady of Good Success. 2014. pp. 14–16.
  • Celibacy and the crisis of faith, (Franciscan Herald Press, 1971)
  • What is Philosophy? (Franciscan Herald Press, 1973)
  • The Devastated Vineyard (1973)
  • Jaws of Death: Gate of Heaven (1976)
  • The Heart: an Analysis of Human and Divine Affectivity, (Franciscan Herald Press, 1977)
  • Making Christ's Peace a Part of Your Life
  • Humility: Wellspring of Virtue
  • The Nature of Love (St. Augustine´s Press, 2010)
  • Aesthetics, Vols. I (Hildebrand Project, 2016) and II (Hildebrand Project, 2018)


  1. ^ Trojan Horse in the City of God. Sophia Press Institute. 1993. p. 269.
  2. ^ Heckenkamp, Kathleen (2014). "In Defense of Fr. Luigi Villa" (PDF). Star of the Stormy Sea (Quarterly newsletter). Oconomowoc: The Apostolate of Our Lady of Good Success. pp. 2–5. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  3. ^ Hildebrand, Dietrich von (1973). Der verwüstete Weinberg (in German). Regensburg: Habbel.
  4. ^ a b c d "Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977)". Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  5. ^ "Ronda Chervin". Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  6. ^ a b The Vortex—Infiltration! (YouTube video). Church Militant. January 29, 2016. Retrieved April 14, 2018.


  • Alice von Hildebrand, The Soul of a Lion, a biography (Ignatius Press, 2000, ISBN 0-89870-801-X)

External links

Adolf von Hildebrand

Adolf von Hildebrand (6 October 1847 – 18 January 1921) was a German sculptor.

Alice von Hildebrand

Alice M. von Hildebrand, DCSG is a Catholic philosopher, theologian, lecturer, author, and former professor; she is also the second wife of Dietrich von Hildebrand.

Art of Living

Art of Living or The Art of Living may refer to:

Art of Living Foundation, a volunteer-based, humanitarian and educational non-governmental organization

The Art of Living International Center, Bangalore, India

Art of Living Center (Los Angeles), U.S.

The Art of Living, a long-running radio program and later a book by Norman Vincent Peale

The Art of Living (film), a 1965 Spanish drama film

The Art of Living, a 1965 book by Dietrich von Hildebrand with Alice von Hildebrand

Art of Living, a 1993 album and song by The Boomers (band)

The Art of Living, a 1967 painting by René Magritte

Bruno Hildebrand

Bruno Hildebrand (6 March 1812 – 29 January 1878) was a German economist representing the "older" historical school of economics. His economic thinking was highly critical of classical economists, especially of David Ricardo. His magnum opus was Economics of the Present and the Future (1848). The basic aim of this work was to establish laws of economic development. Hildebrand also stated that economic development was linear not cyclical. He supported socialist theory on the basis of religion, basic morals, and his beliefs of the negative effect of property on economic behavior.

An economics professor in Marburg, he was accused of high treason with respect to the turmoil of 1848 and condemned to death. He avoided the execution of this sentence by escaping to Switzerland, where he served as an associate professor at the University of Zurich. Together with Alfred Escher he was a co-founder and CEO of the Swiss Northeastern Railway and also was the founder of the Swiss National Bureau/ Federal Statistical Office. Hildebrand also created and directed the publication 'Jahrbücher für Nationalökonomie und Statistik'; for his contributions he was granted honorary Swiss citizenship. He became a professor at the University of Bern. Hildebrand returned then to Germany, where he was a professor at the University of Jena.

His son was the artist and sculptor Adolf von Hildebrand. His grandson was the Catholic philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand. His great-great-grandson is environmental leader Martin von Hildebrand.

Catholic moral theology

Catholic moral theology is a major category of doctrine in the Catholic Church, equivalent to a religious ethics. Moral theology encompasses Roman Catholic social teaching, Catholic medical ethics, sexual ethics, and various doctrines on individual moral virtue and moral theory. It can be distinguished as dealing with "how one is to act", in contrast to dogmatic theology which proposes "what one is to believe".


Dietrich (German pronunciation: [ˈdiːtrɪç]) is an ancient German name meaning "Ruler of the People".

Edmond Michelet

Edmond Michelet (8 October 1899, in Paris – 9 October 1970, in Brive) was a French politician.

On 17 June 1940, he distributed tracts calling to continue the war in all Brive-la-Gaillarde's mailboxes. It is considered to be the first act of resistance of World War II in France, one day before Charles de Gaulle's Appeal of 18 June.

He helped many victims of the Nazis in occupied France, including Catholic philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand. In 1943 he was arrested and incarcerated at the Dachau concentration camp where he assisted other prisoners during a typhus epidemic and was infected himself. When Dachau was liberated he was still aiding the sick and was the last to leave. (While a prisoner, he was helped by abbé Franz Stock.)

He was made minister of the Army by Charles de Gaulle in 1946.

He served as Minister of Justice from 1959 to 1961.

Michelet was the main collaborator of Abraham Vereide, the leader of the Family fundamentalist organisation, based in the United States.

Hildebrand (surname)

Hildebrand is a surname, and may refer to:

Adolf von Hildebrand (1847–1921), German sculptor

Alice von Hildebrand (born 1923), Belgian philosopher and theologian

Billy Hildebrand (born c.1924), American former football player and coach

Brian Hildebrand (1962–1999), American professional wrestling manager

Bror Emil Hildebrand (1806–1884) Swedish archaeologist, numismatist and museum director

Bruno Hildebrand (1812–1878), German economist

Dan Hildebrand, American actor

David K. Hildebrand, scholar on American music history

Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889–1977), German Catholic philosopher and theologian

Francis B. Hildebrand (1915–2002), American mathematician

Franklin Hildebrand (1893–1966), American journalist

George Hildebrand (1878–1960), American baseball player

Gerhard Hildebrand (1877–unknown), German journalist and politician

Gert Hildebrand (born 1953), German car designer

Grant Hildebrand, American architect and architectural historian

Hans Hildebrand (1824–1913) Swedish archaeologist

Henry Hildebrand (1911–2006), Canadian religious educator

Hilde Hildebrand (1897–1976), German actress

Ike Hildebrand (1927–2006), Canadian ice hockey and lacrosse player

J. B. Hildebrand, American football coach

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Johann Hildebrand (1614–1684), German composer, organist, and poet

J.R. Hildebrand, American race car driver

Josef Hildebrand (1895–unknown), Czech fencer

Jürgen Hildebrand (born 1948), German former handball player

Klaus Hildebrand (born 1941), German historian

Lloyd Hildebrand (1870–1924), British racing cyclist

Louis Hildebrand, French cyclist

Madison Hildebrand (born 1980), American realtor and media personality

Martín von Hildebrand (born 1943), American-Colombian ethnologist

Nadine Hildebrand (born 1987), German track and field athlete

Oral Hildebrand (1907–1977), American baseball player

Palmer Hildebrand (1884–1960), American baseball player

Peter E. Hildebrand, American agricultural economist

Philipp Hildebrand (born 1963), Swiss banker

Ray Hildebrand (born 1940), member of the American duo Paul & Paula

Rudolf Hildebrand (1824–1894), German scholar

Samuel F. Hildebrand (1883–1949), American ichthyologist

Sara Hildebrand (born 1979), 2000 & 2004 U.S. Olympic platform diver

Steve Hildebrand, U.S. Democratic political consultant

Timo Hildebrand (born 1979), German football player

Brianna Hildebrand (born 1996), American actress

John Rao

John C. Rao (born 1951) is an associate professor of history at St. John's University, director of the Roman Forum/Dietrich von Hildebrand Institute, and former president of Una Voce America. He was criticised by Cardinal Miloslav Vlk for giving a speech in Prague in which he allegedly expressed anti-American views. Rao denied the charge in a lengthy open letter to the Cardinal in which he demanded an apology.In 1977 Rao received his D.Phil. in Modern European History from Oxford University. Notable works include Americanism and the Collapse of the Church in the United States, Removing the Blindfold, and Periphery. His latest book, a monumental study of Church history, Black Legends and the Light of the World (Remnant Press, 2011), has been hailed as "required reading for anyone concerned about the situation in the Church and the world" (Dr. Joseph Shaw, D. Phil., Oxford, President of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales). He was recently the central interview subject for a PBS documentary on the annual Paris-Chartres Pilgrimage by traditionalist Catholics from around the world.For more than twenty years, Rao has led the Roman Forum's annual symposium at Lake Garda, which attracts scholars of renown from the United States and Europe.A frequent contributor to The Remnant, a traditional Catholic biweekly, Dr. Rao is known for writing his columns from Rocco's Cafe, an Italian pastry shop in Greenwich Village Manhattan, for several months of the year. As a traditionalist Catholic, he is a strong critic of neoconservatism in both politics and the Church.

List of Catholic philosophers and theologians

This is a list of Catholic philosophers and theologians whose Catholicism is important to their works. The names are ordered by date of birth in order to give a rough sense of influence between thinkers.

List of Fordham University faculty

The following is a partial list of current and former notable faculty of Fordham University in New York City.

Luis de Molina

Luis de Molina (; 29 September 1535, Cuenca, Spain – 12 October 1600, Madrid, Spain) was a Spanish Jesuit priest and scholastic, a staunch defender of free will in the controversy over human liberty and God's grace. His theology is known as Molinism.

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Peter Kreeft

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Romano Guardini

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Ronda Chervin

Dr. Ronda Chervin (born 1937, New York City) is a Catholic author, international speaker and Professor of Philosophy. She is the author of over 60 books concerning the matters of Catholic thought, practice and spirituality, including Taming the Lion Within: 5 Steps From Anger to Peace, Last Call: Fourteen Men Who Dared Answer, and her autobiography, En Route to Eternity. A widow, mother and grandmother, she is originally from New York.Coming from a Jewish — though atheistic — background, Chervin converted to the Catholic faith when she was a young adult. She graduated from Fordham University with a Ph.D. in Philosophy and earned an MA in Religious Studies from Notre Dame Apostolic Institute. While at Fordham, Chervin studied under Dietrich von Hildebrand. Since then, as a Professor of Philosophy, she has taught at numerous colleges, including Loyola Marymount University, the Seminary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, CT. She frequently presents on Catholic TV and Radio.

William A. Marra

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