Stade, Richardis von (d. 1152)

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Stade, Richardis von (d. 1152)

Abbess of Bassum. Died on October 29, 1152, at Bassum Abbey, Germany; daughter of the noble family of Stade; sister of Hartwig, archbishop of Bremen; never married; no children.

A German nun, Richardis von Stade eventually became an abbess. Born into a noble German family and sent to a convent as a child, Richardis is best known for her many years at the convents of Disibodenberg and Rupertsberg, where she served as secretary and advisor under her abbess, the great mystic Hildegard of Bingen . Richardis seems to have been Hildegard's closest friend and companion. Well educated and a talented writer, she translated and edited Hildegard's visionary writings and prepared them for production as manuscripts.

Although not a mystic herself, Richardis was, like Hildegard, familiar with classical literature, was fluent in Latin, and studied science, including medicine, astronomy, and anatomy. Their relationship appears to have grown more personal in their later years together at Rupertsberg. When Richardis' family arranged a position for her as abbess at the convent of Bassum, Hildegard was extremely upset; she even wrote letters to her secretary's family, urging them not to let her leave Rupertsberg, and begged Richardis not to go. But Richardis accepted the abbessy of Bassum, perhaps as a position befitting her social rank, and in so doing caused Hildegard much pain. Richardis left Rupertsberg in 1151. Unfortunately, she died after only one year as abbess of Bassum. As her brother Hartwig, the archbishop of Bremen, records, she had planned to return to Hildegard (perhaps just for a visit), but death intervened.


Beer, Frances. Women and Mystical Experience in the Middle Ages. Woodbridge, England: Boydell, 1992.

Laura York , M.A. in History, University of California, Riverside, California

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Stade, Richardis von (d. 1152)

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