Hildebrand de Hemptinne

Félix de Hemptinne, in religion Dom Hildebrand (1849–1913), was a Belgian monk who in 1893 became the first Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation.

Dom Hildebrand's tomb in Beuron


Hemptinne was born in Ghent on 10 June 1849, the second of the seven children of Joseph de Hemptinne and Pauline Gonthijn. His father was a wealthy industrialist of Ultramontane views. At the age of 16 he obtained his father's permission to enlist in the Papal Zouaves, serving until experiencing a vocation to monastic life.[1] On 3 February 1869 he entered Beuron Abbey in Germany, making his profession on 15 August 1870. He was ordained as a priest on 11 June 1872.[1] His personal and family connections in Belgium led to a filiation from Beuron, then in exile due to the Kulturkampf, to Maredsous Abbey in Belgium. In 1876 he was appointed prior of Erdington, serving there until 1881, when he became prior of Maredsous under Abbot Placidus Wolter. From 1886 to 1890 he was secretary to Dom Maurus Wolter. On 9 August 1890 he was elected abbot of Maredsous in succession to Placidus, who had succeeded Maurus as archabbot of Beuron.[1]

In 1893 the Benedictine Confederation was established in Rome, with Hildebrand at the founding assembly. He was elected the first Abbot Primate of the Confederation. He was closely involved in establishing Sant'Anselmo all'Aventino as the home of the Benedictine Anselmianum university (founded 1887).[1] He also edited and approved the constitutions of a number of new Benedictine congregations. Initially combining the Abbot Primacy with the Abbacy of Maredsous, in 1909 he resigned his position in Belgium to focus on his global role, travelling to the United States in 1910, visiting 42 monasteries there.[1] In 1912 he offered his resignation on health grounds but was kept in his position, with a coadjutor appointed to lighten his work. He died at Beuron, Germany, on 13 August 1913, and was buried in the abbey church there.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Philibert Schmitz, "Hemptinne (Félix de)", Biographie Nationale de Belgique, vol. 31 (Brussels, 1962), 445-451.