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Fantasy representation from the 16th century

Hildegunde or Hildegund von Schönau or Hildegund von Neuss (* March 1170 in Helpenstein , today a district of Neuss ; † April 20, 1188 in Schönau near Heidelberg ) is venerated as a saint.

Tradition and legend

Hildegunde was the daughter of Harper von Helpenstein, a ministerial of the Archbishop of Cologne. After the death of her mother, she made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem with her father in the spring of 1183 . On the crossing from Brindisi to Tire , the father died of "hot fever"; he is said to have been buried in the Cathedral of Tire.

In order not to be bothered on the way home, Hildegunde dressed in men's clothes. As a name she chose Joseph - the protector of families and children. According to tradition, she was accused of stealing on the way back to Neuss. She was sentenced to death, but an angel of God is said to have testified to her innocence.

By visiting their relatives, the Beguine Mechthildis in Speyer she came in the Palatine area. Finally, she appeared as a novice at the Cistercian monks in the monastery Schoenau (Odenwald) a. As brother Joseph, she lived there without revealing her true gender, which was only discovered after her death at the age of only 18. She was buried in the choir of the monastery church in Schönau and quickly gained the reputation of holiness.

Her feast day is April 20th.


Web links

Wikisource: Legend of St. Hildegund  - Sources and full texts