Christendom mourns the passing of the internationally beloved Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, who passed away peacefully on January 14, 2022. A renowned lecturer and author, Dr. von Hildebrand was a committed writer, philosopher, teacher, and Catholic who never stopped pursuing and championing the objectivity of truth. She was 98.
“Alice von Hildebrand was a good friend of Christendom College,” says College President Dr. Timothy O’Donnell. “She was a beautiful woman, a fine philosopher and fervent Catholic. Cathy and I together mourn her loss, but praise God for her life and all the contributions she made in service of our Catholic faith and defense of the common good. May we all commend her beautiful soul to God.”
Dr. Alice von Hildebrand was born in Belgium in 1923, before fleeing to America to escape Nazi occupation in 1940. She studied at Fordham University upon her arrival to the U.S., where she met, and married, famed philosopher and theologian Dietrich von Hildebrand. In 1947, she began teaching philosophy at Hunter College in New York City — a position she would hold for the next 37 years. In a climate of relativism, she championed the objectivity of truth. Some students on the verge of despair found a reason for living; many, even though she never mentioned religion, converted to Catholicism.
Dr. von Hildebrand was a renowned lecturer and author of many books, including The Privilege of Being a Woman, The Soul of a Lion: The Life of Dietrich von Hildebrand, and her autobiography, Memoirs of a Happy Failure. After her retirement from teaching in 1984, she became an active voice in the Catholic world, delivering lectures in South America, Canada, thirty-five U.S. states, and many European countries. She continued to teach at other institutions as well, including the Notre Dame Institute, which later became Christendom’s Graduate School of Theology.
In 2015, Dr. von Hildebrand was honored with Christendom’s St. Catherine of Siena Award during the college’s Commencement Ceremonies, where she also delivered that year’s commencement address. She gave an inspirational address to the graduates, drawing upon Scripture and her own studies on feminism to give deep insights into the true dignity of women. Turning to both the book of Genesis and to the Incarnation, von Hildebrand provided sharp contrasts to the horrors of abortion and the rejection of maternity by the world today, imploring the senior class to fight these trends in society.
Her legacy will continue on through the countless students she impacted across the world through her lectures and written works, along with the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project, which continues to promote and disseminate her husband’s life and thought.
Dr. von Hildebrand will be sorely missed by the entire Christendom community.
May her soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.