St. Hubert

Saint Hubert and the Stag Stained Glass WindowAbout St Hubert

St. Hubert is also known as St. Hubertus. A married courtier with a passion for hunting Hubert was not initially passionate about his faith. On the death of his wife he left the royal court and immersed himself in hunting. As legend holds, an encounter with a stag with a crucifix between its antlers turned Hubert’s life toward God.

He is known as the patron saint of hunters, dogs, and archers. Among sport hunters he is credited as the source of ethical hunting behavior. He is recognized as the 1st bishop of Liege, and was a evangelistic bishop reaching out to the pagans along the Ardennes Forest earning him the title the Apostle of the Ardennes.

Until the cure for rabies was introduced in the early 20th century, people called upon the name of St. Hubert to rid loved ones of this heartless and deadly disease. Christians often turned to his name in times of trouble during the middle ages.

St. Hubert died in 727 AD in Belgium. We celebrate his feast day on November 3. Images and medals of St. Hubert frequently show him with wild game, especially a stag with a crucifix, emphasizing his place as the patron saint of hunters.

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St Hubert with Dog and Stag Painting
St Hubert with Dog and Stag Painting

More About St Hubert

Widely recognized for his association with hunting, St. Hubert’s life story is much lesser known. After years of chasing the next prize in his hunting pursuits, St. Hubert’s conversion and dedication to God led him to the ultimate prize: eternal life with God in heaven.

Born in 656 in what is now France, St. Hubert was the eldest son of the Duke of Acquitaine. Growing up as nobility, St. Hubert grew more and more interested in the popular pastime of the age: hunting. Also, since wars at the time were fought on horseback with bows and arrows as weapons, St. Hubert practiced his skills in order to achieve a level of mastery that would benefit him both as a hunter and as a soldier. As a young man, St. Hubert was handsome and athletic, and spent most of his time seeking the pleasures and affirmations of the world.

St. Hubert was brought up in the Catholic Faith, and his mother prayed constantly that he would turn from his fascination with achievement and status to the ways of the Lord. It was not until, when at age 26, St. Hubert married a woman named Floribonne, that he would reconsider his motivations and passions. Floribonne was a devout woman whose influence rekindled in St. Hubert the faith that he had learned as a child. Sadly, though, shortly after the birth of their firstborn son, Floribert, Floribonne died. St. Hubert was crushed with grief.

In response to his wife’s death, St. Hubert felt great confusion and anger toward God. He abandoned the faith that she had helped him to rekindle and went back to a life obsessed with hunting and the accolades that came with it. One Good Friday, St. Hubert set out on horseback to hunt. He came upon a large group of people gathered for devotions in honor of the holy day. The priest asked St. Hubert to join them, but St. Hubert kept on his way, preferring hunting over prayer.

St Hubert and His Dogs Meet the Stag Painting
St Hubert and His Dogs Meet the Stag Painting

While in the woods, St. Hubert came upon a male deer with large antlers, looking right at him. As St. Hubert readied his bow and arrow to take the deer down, he noticed between the deer’s antlers was a crucifix, radiant with light. St. Hubert heard a voice telling him to turn his life over to God. He got down from his horse, knelt on the ground, and promised that he would follow the Lord’s command.

St. Hubert gave his birthright over to his younger brother, then made him guardian of his son. He set out in search of God’s will for his life. St. Hubert met a man, Lambert (who would become St. Lambert), who taught him to pray. St. Hubert was later ordained a priest. After Lambert’s death, St. Hubert was appointed bishop of the people. He was known of his dynamic preaching, and often used his skills with a bow and arrow to draw crowds to come listen to the Word of God. His sermons changed many hearts. Those who were Christians found themselves renewed in their devotion. Those who were pagans became Christians and in turn destroyed the idolatrous places of worship they had previously attended.

One day, in the year 726, St. Hubert had a vision of his own death while at prayer. A few days later, while reciting the “Our Father,” St. Hubert died. Devotion to him was popular during the Middle Ages, when several military orders were named after him.

St. Hubert’s feast day is November 3. This marks the official start to the hunting season in Europe. In some places, for the Mass on this day, organ music will be replaced with hunting horns. Hunters, along with their horses and dogs, will receive a special blessing. In Belgium, a special bread, called “St. Hubert’s Bread” is eaten. Later, hunters take to the forests in search of deer. In the evening the people may gather for a great feast consisting of fine foods, but featuring (of course) venison.

Patronage of St. Hubert

St. Hubert is most commonly known as the patron saint of hunters. Additionally, he is the patron of archers, dogs (especially hunting dogs), forest workers, and trappers.

St Hubert Tapestry
Tapestry of St Hubert and the Stag

St. Hubert in Art

St. Hubert is often depicted in art as a man looking upon a deer with a crucifix between its antlers. At times he is dressed as a bishop, other times as a huntsman.

St. Hubert Prayers

Prayer to hunt for souls, like St. Hubert

Lord, you spoke to St. Hubert and converted him to You during a stag hunt. You changed him into a hunter of souls, yet you continued to use his skills as a hunter to open minds to your Gospel. I ask that you make me into a hunter of souls above all other hunting activities. May I look for the opportunities to speak of You and Your salvation. Let the hunting camp itself be a place that uplifts the soul. May my time alone be an opportunity to pray and listen to You. May all the actions of the rest of my life be a constant hunt for You, for the opportunities you give me to evangelize, and to target the souls most in need of Your love.

IMPRIMI POTEST,
VERY REV. FATHER EDWARD SCHMIDT, SJ

St. Hubert Prayer

Holy St. Hubert, you were
Passionate about hunting,
But upon hearing the voice of the Lord,
You laid down your bow and took up
The call to the priesthood.
By the miracles and conversions
Brought about through your
Intercession and example, you led
Others to adore and love God.
With great devotion and confidence in
Your powerful assistance, I beg the
Grace to grow in holiness and embrace
The gift of serious Christian
Discipleship. I ask this in the
Most Holy Name of Jesus Christ,
Our King and our God!
Amen.

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