Bernward of Hildesheim

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bernward von Hildesheim (monument at the cathedral, 19th century)

Bernward of Hildesheim (* around 950 / 960 ; † 20th November 1022 in Hildesheim ) was bishop of Hildesheim from 993 to 1022 and is a saint of the Catholic Church . In the Evangelical name Calendar will Bernward listed. His name means Old High German protector of the bear .

life and work

Dedication image of the Precious Gospel Bishop Bernwards ; left Bernward in a chasuble with the gospels , right Maria, patroness of the cathedral, as the victorious Mother of God
Hildesheim Bernward chandelier
"Bernward chandelier" - pair of St. Bernwards chandeliers

Bernward came from the Saxon nobility. Who his father was is not sure; Margrave Dietrich von der Nordmark († 985) or Pfalzgraf Dietrich I von Sachsen († 995) are named as possible fathers. Bernward spent his childhood with his maternal grandfather, Count Palatine Adalbero of Saxony .

He had received extensive training at the Hildesheim Cathedral School . In 977 his uncle Folcmar - formerly Chancellor of Emperor Otto II , since 976 Bishop of Utrecht - introduced him to the court and trained him as a notary . From 987 he was at the court of Empress Theophanu , who reigned after Otto II's death, and was the author and writer of rulers' documents . From 987 / 988-993 he was the tutor of King Otto III. active. His participation as priest Bernward in 983 at the meeting of the greats of Saxony in the Hesleburg (ad civitatum Hesleburg, according to Thietmar von Merseburg ) near Burgdorf is already important .

On January 15, 993 Bernward was ordained bishop by Willigis , the responsible Archbishop of Mainz . His term of office falls during the era of the Saxon emperors , who had family roots in the Hildesheim area and were personally connected to Bernward. At this time Hildesheim was one of the power centers of the empire , and Bernward was determined to give his city a face appropriate to this importance, following the example of Rome . Most famous evidence of this endeavor are the Bernward doors of Hildesheim Cathedral ( bronze castings with scenes of salvation history modeled on the wooden doors of Santa Sabina in Rome), the Column of Christ (bronze casting with Frieze of the deeds of Christ along the lines of the stone Imperial Column in Rome) and the massive building the early Romanesque Michaeliskirche (completed after Bernwards death), which the bishop had built as an image of the heavenly Jerusalem and at the same time as his Church of the Holy Sepulcher. These Bernwardin art treasures are now on the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage . According to some researchers, Bernwards' achievement in the construction of Michaeliskirche goes far beyond that of a client and builder. The building historian Hans Roggenkamp called him Architectus sapiens (according to 1 Cor. 1:13) and the “spiritual creator of the spatial concept”. He was therefore responsible for the conception ( dispositio ). The architect responsible for constructio is often named as the first abbot (1022 to 1030) of the Michaeliskloster Goderam . Both were based on the principles of Boethius and especially Vitruvius , which he laid down in his "Ten Books on Architecture".

For Abbess Judith von Ringelheim , who may have been his sister or half-sister, Bernward donated the Ringelheimer Kreuz , a monumental wooden sculpture of the crucified, which, with only a few comparable works, marks the restart of sculpture in the West.

Bernward expanded the cathedral district with a strong twelve-tower wall (partially preserved) to form the cathedral castle and built further castles in the country to defend against the neighboring Slav tribes . But the inner spiritual life of his diocese and caring for the poor were also important to him. In his will , which is dated to the year 996, Bernward bequeathed an own church in Burgstemmen to the cross chapel of the later Michaeliskloster in Hildesheim .

Bernwards coffin in Michaeliskirche

On Michaelmas Day (September 29th) of the year 1022, Bernward consecrated the still unfinished Abbey Church of St. Michael, in which, as his memorial stone there says, people should always pray for him. On St. Martin's Day (November 11th) of the same year he became a monk of this Benedictine monastery, where he died on November 20th, 1022. After his death he was buried in the crypt of Michaeliskirche. His life was written down by his teacher Thangmar in the Vita Bernwardi . The authorship is guaranteed at least for parts - other parts were probably added in the high Middle Ages . Bernward died a few weeks after the consecration of St. Michael. His sarcophagus in the Michaeliskirche he built in Hildesheim is empty, the relics rest in the Magdalenenkirche . A first attempt at an episcopal canonization around 1150 failed, and finally Cardinal Cinthius was able to obtain Bernwards canonization around 1192.


Special postage stamp from 1960 for the 1000th birthday
Bernward von Hildesheim as a roof figure at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Bernward was by Pope Celestine III. (Pope from 1191 to 1198) canonized. An earlier veneration as a saint in the Michaelis monastery is already liturgically documented by the Ratmann sacramentary (1159) and the Stammheim missal . His Protestant and Roman Catholic day of remembrance is November 20, his attributes are bishop's robe, church model and, in particular, the Bernward cross . In the Walhalla in Donaustauf , a memorial plaque was erected in his memory before 1847. And Bernward was also important for the culture of remembrance of the German Empire, which was newly founded or re-established in 1871 , even outside Hildesheim and the church environment. In the figure frieze in the stairwell of the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin, which was designed by the Berlin sculptor Otto Geyer from 1870–1875 , you can find Bernward standing and working on the Christ column ; Lampert von Hersfeld sits next to him as the historian of the Saxon emperors . The Bernwards monument has stood on the Hildesheim cathedral courtyard since 1893 . In the Diocese of Hildesheim, many churches from the 19th and 20th centuries bear his name, and churches in the Diocese of Magdeburg are also named after him (see Bernward Church ).

The city of Hildesheim coined the Bernwardsgroschen in the 15th and 16th centuries with his name and bust.

Bernwardin works of art


  • Thangmar : Vita Bernwardi episcopi Hildesheimensis. In: Georg Heinrich Pertz u. a. (Ed.): Scriptores (in Folio) 4: Annales, chronica et historiae aevi Carolini et Saxonici. Hannover 1841, pp. 754-782 ( Monumenta Germaniae Historica , digitized version ).
  • Life of St. Bernward, Bishop of Hildesheim, written by Thangmar (?) In: Biographies of some bishops of the 10th – 12th centuries Century. Translated by Hatto Kallfelz. ( Selected sources on German medieval history. 22) Darmstadt 1973, pp. 263–361.
  • Thietmar von Merseburg : Chronicle. Translated by Werner Trillmich. ( Freiherr vom Stein-Gedächtnisausgabe. 9) Darmstadt 1957. Latin text in Robert Holtzmann (Hrsg.): Scriptores rerum Germanicarum, Nova series 9: The Chronicle of Bishop Thietmar von Merseburg and her Korveier revision (Thietmari Merseburgensis episcopi Chronicon) Berlin 1935 ( Monumenta Germaniae Historica , digitized )


  • Friedrich Wilhelm BautzBernward, Bishop of Hildesheim. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 1, Bautz, Hamm 1975. 2nd, unchanged edition Hamm 1990, ISBN 3-88309-013-1 , Sp. 545-546.
  • Wilhelm Berges:  Bernward, Bishop of Hildesheim. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 2, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1955, ISBN 3-428-00183-4 , p. 143 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Michael Brandt, Arne Eggebrecht (ed.): Bernward von Hildesheim and the age of the Ottonians. Catalog of the 1993 exhibition. 2 volumes. Bernward Verlag, Hildesheim 1993, ISBN 3-87065-736-7 .
  • Bernhard Bruns: The two-one church made of Jews and Gentiles. The ecclesiology of St. Bernward in the light of Latin patristicism. In: Augustiniana. 53 (2003), pp. 159-264.
  • Doris Carla Doussemer: In Bishop Bernwards Footsteps. A story in the rhythm of the centuries. Arete Verlag, Hildesheim 2017, ISBN 978-3-942468-85-5
  • Bernhard Gallistl: The bronze doors of Bishop Bernwards in the cathedral to Hildesheim. Herder Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 1990, ISBN 3-451-21983-2 .
  • Martina Giese: The text versions of the biography of Bishop Bernwards von Hildesheim (= Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Studies and Texts, Vol. 40). Hahnsche Buchhandlung, Hannover 2006, ISBN 978-3-7752-5700-8 ( review ).
  • Friedrich Lotter, Victor H. Elbern: Bernward . In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages (LexMA). Volume 1, Artemis & Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1980, ISBN 3-7608-8901-8 , Sp. 2012-2014.
  • Hartmut Reichhardt (Ed.): Der Michaelishügel 1015–2015 - Entombment and Memoria Bernwards von Hildesheim - Notes on the anniversary celebration “1000 years of the St. Michaelis crypt in Hildesheim” on September 28 and 29, 2015. Gerstenberg Verlag, Hildesheim 2015.
  • Wolfgang Christian Schneider: Bernward of Hildesheim. Bishop - politician - artist - theologian. Georg-Olms-Verlag, Hildesheim 2010, ISBN 978-3-487-14268-5 .
  • Francis J. Tschan: Saint Bernward of Hildesheim. 1. His Life and Times. ( Publications in Mediaeval Studies, 6.) University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ind. 1942.
  • Francis J. Tschan: Saint Bernward of Hildesheim. 2. His Works of Art. ( Publications in Mediaeval Studies, 12.) University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ind. 1951.
  • Francis J. Tschan: Saint Bernward of Hildesheim. 3rd album. ( Publications in Mediaeval Studies, 13.) University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ind. 1952.
  • Wilhelm WattenbachBernward, Bishop of Hildesheim . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 2, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1875, p. 505 f.
  • Christine Wulf: Bernward von Hildesheim, a bishop on the way to holiness. In: Concilium Medii Aevi. 11 (2008). Pp. 1-19. PDF

Web links

Commons : Bernward von Hildesheim  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. ^ Friedrich Wilhelm Bautz:  Bernward, Bishop of Hildesheim. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 1, Bautz, Hamm 1975. 2nd, unchanged edition Hamm 1990, ISBN 3-88309-013-1 , Sp. 545-546.
  2. ^ Wilhelm Berges:  Bernward, Bishop of Hildesheim. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 2, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1955, ISBN 3-428-00183-4 , p. 143 f. ( Digitized version ).
  3. a b c Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints: Bernward von Hildesheim , accessed on November 20, 2012.
  4. Dieter Riemer, Pater semper incertus, St. Bernward on the father's side , Hildesheim Calendar, Yearbook for History and Culture 2006, pp. 188–191.
  5. Hans Jakob Schuffels in Brandt / Eggebrecht (eds.): Bernward von Hildesheim and the age of the Ottonians, catalog of the exhibition 1993 volume 1 p. 31; Illustration of the certificate in volume 2, p. 453.
  6. Hans Roggenkamp: Measure and number. In: Hartwig Beseler, Hans Roggenkamp. The Michaeliskirche in Hildesheim. Gebr. Mann Verlag. Berlin 1954. p. 148.
  7. Hans Roggenkamp: Measure and number. In: Hartwig Beseler, Hans Roggenkamp. The Michaeliskirche in Hildesheim. Gebr. Mann Verlag. Berlin 1954. pp. 147-150.
  8. ^ History of Burgstemmen ( Memento from September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on July 17, 2006.
predecessor Office successor
Gerdag Bishop of Hildesheim