Catholic philosopher and author Alice Von Hildebrand dies at 98 – Eurasia Review

By Kate Olivera

Catholic philosopher and longtime teacher Alice von Hildebrand died on January 14 at the age of 98.

“With sadness mingled with joy, I write to share that our beloved friend and sister Alice von Hildebrand returned to the Lord at 12:25 p.m. this morning. She passed away peacefully at home after a brief illness,” wrote the founder and chairman of the Hildebrand Project, John Henry Crosby, in a January 14 death announcement.

“Those who knew Lily often heard her say that her candle wick was getting shorter and shorter. In fact, she longed 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 deep faith can grant.

Von Hildebrand was born Alice Jourdain in Belgium in 1923. She fled Europe during World War II and arrived in New York in 1940. Soon after, she met the famous personality philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand. She recalls being immediately impressed by Dietrich’s dedication to truth and wisdom.

“As soon as he opened his mouth, I knew this was what I was looking for: the scent of the supernatural, the radiant beauty of truth, the unity of all values: truth, beauty and kindness,” von Hildebrand wrote in his book. 2014 autobiography, “Memoirs of a happy failure”.

She was Dietrich’s philosophy student for several years before the couple married in 1959.

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

“In secular universities, the word ‘objective truth’ triggers panic,” she wrote in her autobiography. “God said, ‘I know you don’t belong there,’ as my colleagues have said over and over again. ‘But, I have work for you, and you can’t do it alone. I’ll help you.'”

In 1984, von Hildebrand retired from Hunter College after 37 years, and she received 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 Hildebrand”. She also wrote countless articles and essays and helped start the Hildebrand Project to promote her late husband’s work.

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

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

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

“She not only made over 80 appearances on EWTN, but probably left her most significant body of essays in the series of articles she wrote exclusively for CNA,” Bermudez said. You can read his work for CNA here.

In a 2014 interview with CNA, von Hildebrand explained that her life was drastically different than she expected.

“God chose the model for my life – totally different from what I had imagined. I feel like the female Habacuc brought into the lion’s den,” she said.

“When I look back on my life, the words that come to mind from my heart are: misericodias domini in aeternum cantabo”, quoting Latin words from the Psalms which translate to “I will sing the mercies of the Lord forever “.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

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