Saint Bernward was the thirteenth Bishop of Hildesheim, Germany in the 10th century. Raised by his uncle, Bishop Volkmar of Utrecht, he received a top-notch education with the help of Thangmar, the learned director of the cathedral school at Heidelberg. Bernward thrived under Thangmar’s tutelage, excelling in Christian piety, mathematics, painting, architecture, and the creation of ecclesiastical vessels made of silver and gold.
Bernward completed his studies at Mainz before being ordained as a priest. Instead of joining his uncle’s diocese, he decided to stay with his grandfather, Athelbero. He became the chaplain of the imperial court after his grandfather’s death and was appointed as a tutor to the six-year-old Otto III by Empress-Regent Theophano. Bernward remained at the imperial court until 993, when he was elected Bishop of Hildesheim.
A man of exceptional piety, Saint Bernward was devoted to prayer and mortification, and generously employed his artistic skills in the service of the Church. Shortly before his death in 1022, he was vested in the Benedictine habit. In 1193, he was canonized by Pope Celestine III, making him a saint.
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