Hugeberc, an Anglo-Saxon and kinsman of Walburga was abbess of Hildesheim in the 8thC. In the course of her time she wrote one of the earliest writings of a woman, entitled Vita Willibaldi episcopi Eischstetensis et vita Wynnebaldi abbatis Heidenheimensis, the lives of her two kinsmen. Only the preface to the whole and the Vita Willibaldi has survive, usually called the Hodoeporicon, which translated means "relation of a voyage".

These two were brothers of Walburga under whom Hugeberc joined the monastery. She began her writing on the summer solstice of the year 778 after Bishop Willibald visited her at the double monastery. Her writing took the form of a guide for pilgrims to the Holy Land from Germany and therefore included almost every possible shrine on the way. It also recorded the main details of Willibald's life and his missionary activity in Germany.

 It was rare for a Christian woman to write at this time and indeed for long afterwards. So it is no surprise that Hugeberc becomes one of a long line of Christian women writers who make a point of belittling her own work in order to survive in a patriarchal church. Thus she describes herself as an "unworthy sister of Saxon origin, last and least in life and manners", frail and weak because of her sex with no "pretense to wisdom". "Nonetheless I would be pleased to pluck, collect, and display, with however small an art, a few tokens from the lowest branches for you to keep in your memory (vestrae memoriae)." She makes it clear that she wrote for posterity, and that she was "inspired first by the grace of God, then by the breadth of the experience of that venerable man Willibald."
What we know of Hugeberc is derived from her writings. She is young, and she sees herself as "capable of describing" the places of which she writes in such a way that she will give the reader "something worthy of remembrance." She felt herself capable of describing Willibald's travel because it took him to the Holy Land to see "places where there occurred those celestial wonders, miracles, and signs of virtue which the Lord-when He humiliated Himself for the salvation of humanity and descended to take on a human body-deigned to execute and perform in this world, as he was strengthened by divine power." Willibald also saw and trod "the very places where our Lord was born, where He suffered, and where, having risen from the dead, He appeared to us."

Her writings also gave an extraordinary insight into the experiences of young Anglo-Saxon men travelling through Saracen countries, and their mutual curiosity about each others' lives.

But what is of the utmost importance is the revelation of her self-confidence, her scholarship, her astute judgements on Willibald's behaviour, and the vivid example of the ease of relationships that prevailed at this time between the Anglo-Saxon women and men who had left their homes to evangelise Germany. 
Towards the end of her account, Hugeberc described the investing of another Willibald with the 'sacred authority of the episcopate' by Boniface, and the founding of the monastery of Eichstatt on land donated to Boniface. Here, missionaries were trained "with gentleness and sympathy" to work all over Germany. Eventually, God's word was preached successfully through the land of Bavaria which was "'dotted with churches and priests' houses and the relics of saints."  Hugeberc had contributed her part, along with her kinsmen, in converting the heathens on Germanic soil to the Christian faith.

Marianne Dorman
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