Hildegonde a female saint of the Romish Church, whose history is, in fact, a satire on Romish saintship. She is said to have been born at Nuitz, in the diocese of Cologne, towards the middle of the 12th century. Her father having made a vow to visit the Holy Land, she accompanied him, dressed in man's clothes, under the name of Joseph. Her father dying, however, on the way, he entrusted her to a man who, after conducting her to Jerusalem and back to Ptolemais, abandoned her in a state of destitution. After various vicissitudes, she came back to Cologne, entered the service of a canon, and finally, in 1185, retired to a Cistercian convent near Heidelberg, where she died April 20, 1188. She was known to the other monks only as Brother Joseph, and her sex was not discovered until after her death. The Cistercians commemorate her on the 20th of April. Her life was written by Caesarius of Heisterbach. See Baillet, Vies des Saints, April 20; the Bollandists Acta Sanct.; Richard et Giraud, Biblioth. Sacrae; Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Géneralé, 24, 675.

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