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Mother Hildegarde, born Hildegarde de Gascogne, is the nun in charge of running L'Hôpital des Anges in Paris, France. She has a dog called Bouton who accompanies her on her rounds and can sniff out sickness.

Personal History

Mother Hildegarde has always been very musical; as a child she was considered to be a musical prodigy as she could play from memory anything she heard and composed her first piece at the age of seven.[1] She is a close friend of the King's music master, Johannes Gerstmann, and corresponds with Johann Sebastian Bach. Her godfather was Louis XIV, the Sun King.[1]

Events of the Novels

Dragonfly in Amber

In 1744, Mother Hildegarde meets Claire Fraser when she comes to work as a volunteer at L'Hôpital des Anges. Jamie Fraser enlists her aid to help decode intercepted messages intended for Charles Stuart. With Claire's help, she deciphers a letter that states there is fifty thousand pounds waiting for Charles Stuart once he sets foot on English soil.

Mother Hildegarde and the nuns at L'Hopital des Anges care for Claire after her miscarriage when she is gravely ill. Mother Hildegarde baptizes Claire's stillborn daughter, and names her Faith.

Claire seeks Mother Hildegarde's advice on freeing Jamie from the Bastille. Mother Hildegarde advises her that women seeking favors from the King are expected to lie with him. When Claire decides that she will do what must be done, Mother Hildegarde stands by her and prays for her.


In 1766, Claire visits Mother Hildegarde while she is in Paris with Jamie.

"The Space Between"

Mother Hildegarde accepts a letter from a new postulant, Sister Gregory, who tries to explain that the letter is from Joan's stepfather's wife, but fumbles with the French translation and manages only to convey that Claire is her mother. Later, Sister Gregory has gone missing and Mother Hildegarde asks Sister Gregory's cousin, Michael Murray, if he knows where she might have gone. Michael clarifies that Claire is not Sister Gregory's mother, and that the Comte St. Germain might be involved.


There was something about that that appealed most strongly to me. 'An eminently useful life.' I could think of many worse epitaphs than that, milady.
— Mother Hildegarde, Dragonfly in Amber

Mother Hildegarde is a no-nonsense sort who lives by a code of hard work and service. Though she has devoted her life to ministering to the poor and sick, she spends her meager spare time enjoying her other passion, music.

Physical Appearance

Nearly six feet tall with a gaunt, rawboned frame and a face "of an ugliness so transcendent as to be grotesquely beautiful".[2] She has a deep, resonant voice, and is described as having black eyes and heavy brow ridges.[3]


  • Hildegarde is derived from the Germanic elements hild "battle" and gard "enclosure".[4]


  • Mother Hildegarde was based on a real historical person who lived in the 12th century, rather than the 18th.[5] Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179) was a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath.
  • She has a large harpsichord made of walnut and decorated along the sounding board with small hand-painted flowers sprouting from a twisting vine.[1]
  • She keeps a dog who goes on her rounds with her. There have been a number of dogs that filled this position, all named Bouton.
    • Bouton in 1744 is a small white dog who looks like a cross between a poodle and a dachshund. He has a rough, kinky coat, a wide belly and stumpy, bowed legs. Bouton means 'button' and he has a small black button nose. Bouton has the ability to sniff out infection and illness and he accompanies Mother Hildegarde on her rounds.[2]
    • Bouton XVI is the dog Mother Hildegarde has when Claire returns through the stones. This Bouton is coal-black with hair as curly as a Persian lamb.[3]

TV Series

English actress Frances de la Tour portrays Mother Hildegarde on the Outlander television adaptation.[6]


Season Two