How did Saint Hubertus Become the Patron Saint of Hunters?
- Tuesday, 15 January 2019
The conversion of Hubertus the patron Saint of hunters.
"The Conversion of Holy Hubertus", Wilhelm Räuber (1849-1926)
Most of us will be aware that the patron Saint of hunters is St Hubert however, why did this nobleman who was apparently told by God to turn his attentions away from hunting, come to be the patron saint of hunters?
Born around 656 A.D, near Toulous, Hubert, the son of Bertrand Duke of Aquitaine was, like many nobles of the time, addicted to the ‘chase’ which by virtue of his wealth, he was able to devote most of his time. However, when his wife Floribanne daughter of Dagobert died during childbirth, Hubert’s devotion to hunting became an obsession to which he chose to devote all of his energy.
The area in which St Hubert is said to have hunted is in the Ardennes region of Europe, which consists of the extensive forests of the Ardennes mountain range, which are located primarily in Belgium but also extend into Luxenbourg, France and Germany.
Legend has it, that on Good Friday one year, whilst throngs of faithful church goers attended church for mass. Hubertus was in the forested region of Ardennes instead, stalking a magnificent stag. Just as Hubertus stalked in for the kill, the stag is said to have turned directly toward him revealing a shining crucifix suspended between its majestic antlers. As it did so, Hubert is said to have heard a voice from heaven announce: “Hubert, unless thou turnest to the Lord, and leadest an holy life, thou shalt quickly go down into hell.” Deeply affected by his vision, Hubert asked what he must do and was instructed to seek Bishop Lambert of his diocese, to learn what God required of him.
The vision was the beginning of a profound conversion for Hubert, a conversion that led him to renounce his wealth and titles, study for the priesthood, and ultimately become a bishop himself.
However, the reason why St Hubertus became the patron saint of hunters is because there is more to St Huberts vision. The voice from heaven experienced by Hubert during his vision, is said to have lectured Hubertus on the virtue of treating animals as God’s creatures and to adopt the principles of never shooting females with young, to priorities the shooting of sick and injured animals and ensure a quick, clean kill and it was these principles that St Hubertus went on to preach to his congregation.
Such is the legacy of St Hubert, that the principles taught during his sermons, have formed an important part of the principles of hunting practices throughout the Christian world.
In particular, in the region of Europe where St Hubert lived, the principles continue to be adopted by both German hunter training courses and the French ‘chasse à courre’, huntsmen and followers, who hunt large game on horseback and are the last direct heirs of Saint Hubert in Europe.
Indeed, Chasse à courre (riding with hounds) employs a specific set of ethics and rituals that date back to the early Middle-Ages and Saint Hubert is venerated every year by the Hunts during formal ceremonies.
As such, Saint Hubertus is acknowledged among sport-hunters as the first to promote ethical hunting practices and to have been the founder of ethical hunting standards and behaviour that respects animals as God’s creatures.
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