Saint Bernward of Hildesheim
Hildesheim Bishop.Bernward.Statue.01.JPG
Statue of Bernward von Hildesheim near St. Mary's Cathedral
Born 960, Duchy of Saxony
Died 20 November 1022
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Major shrine St. Mary's Cathedral, Hildesheim
Feast 20 November

Saint Bernward (c. 960 – 20 November 1022) was the Bishop of Hildesheim from 993, until his death in 1022.

Bernward came from a Saxon noble family and studied at the cathedral school of Hildesheim. From 977, he served as a scribe and chronicler at the court of Otto II and Theophanu and then from 987/88-993, he and the future Pope Sylvester II were in charge of the young Emperor Otto III.

His time in office fell during the era of the Saxon emperors, who had their roots in the area around Hildesheim and were personally related to Bernward. During this time, Hildesheim was a center of power in the Holy Roman Empire and Bernward was determined to give his city an image fitting for one of its stature.

Hildesheim-Dom-Bernwardstuer 01

The Bernward Doors at St. Mary's Cathedral, Hildesheim

The most famous examples of this ambition are the Bernward doors of St. Mary's Cathedral (Bronze cast with scenes of the holy history after the wooden doors of Santa Sabina in Rome), the Christus Pilar (Bronze cast with images of the deeds of Christ after the stone Kaisersäulen in Rome), as well as the early Romanesque Michaelskirche (finished after Bernward's death). St. Michael's Church was designed to be the image of heavenly Jerusalem by the bishop and he is buried there. The treasures Bernward created are today UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Bernward built up the cathedral district with a strong twelve-towered wall and erected further forts in the countryside to protect against attacks by the neighboring Slavic peoples. However, the inner spiritual struggles of his diocese and aiding the poor were always closest to his heart.

His life was set down in writing by his student, Thangmar, in Vita Bernwardi. For at least part of this document, the authorship is certain, but other parts were probably added in the High Middle Ages. He died on 20 November 1022, a few weeks after the consecration of the magnificent church of St. Michael, which he had built. Bernward was canonized by Pope Celestine III. His feast day is November 20.

See also


  • Bernhard Gallistl: Bernward of Hildesheim: a Case of Self-Planned Sainthood?', in The Invention of Saintliness, ed. by A. Mulder-Bakker. London 1992. pp. 145-162. ISBN10: 0415267595 ISBN13: 9780415267595

External links

hu:Bernward von Hildesheimru:Бернвард Хильдесхаймский