The Personalist Project

Accessed on September 27, 2023 - 1:54:08

The birthplace of Dietrich von Hildebrand

Katie van Schaijik, Oct 12, 2013

October 12th is Dietrich von Hildebrand's birthday. Yesterday, Jules and I visited the Florentine villa where he was born in 1889. The imposing home—a former convent called San Francesco—is still owned by nieces and nephews of von Hildebrand's, who rent it out to foreigners.

Outside on the gate you can see a relief of Adolf von Hildebrand, the renown German sculptor, Dietrich's father.  

As we were peering eagerly though the fence, an attractive and friendly-looking youngish woman came out. We asked her whether we might go in.  She—plainly an American—said, kindly, "I'm sorry; it's private." I told her we are devotees of the philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand, and that we'd spent a night here on our honeymoon. She relented instantly.  "Okay. I was going out for a walk, but since you're devotees, I'll show you around."

She and her husband, a Frenchman and a sculptor studying at the Florence Academy of Art, are renting Adolf's studio for a few months. She let us in. It's still full of Adolf's work.

In the corner is a bust of DvH's sister, Bertele.

Alice von HIldebrand often speaks of her husband's "ideal youth" in Florence, where he was nourished on Beauty and doted on by his parents and five older sisters. She speaks of the time she and her husband spend in San Francesco as "the most beautiful year of my life."

Here is Benedict in the inner courtyard.

And here is the view of the city from the hill behind the house.

It was a day of what von Hildebrand called "Catholic weather"—when creation is in its full glory.  A day for us to drink in the splendor of Florence, and draw closer to von Hildebrand by experiencing, at least partly, the milieu of his youth.  

Thanks be to God.