03 Nov 2018

St. Hubert’s Day

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Samuel John Carter (1835-1892), Legend of St. Hubert, Private Collection (sold December 2007).

Wikipedia:

Saint Hubertus was born (probably in Toulouse) about the year 656. He was the eldest son of Bertrand, Duke of Aquitaine. As a youth, Hubert was sent to the Neustrian court of Theuderic III at Paris, where his charm and agreeable address led to his investment with the dignity of “count of the palace”. Like many nobles of the time, Hubert was addicted to the chase. Meanwhile, the tyrannical conduct of Ebroin, mayor of the Neustrian palace, caused a general emigration of the nobles and others to the court of Austrasia at Metz. Hubert soon followed them and was warmly welcomed by Pepin of Herstal, mayor of the palace, who created him almost immediately grand-master of the household. About this time (682) Hubert married Floribanne, daughter of Dagobert, Count of Leuven.Their son Floribert of Liège would later become bishop of Liège, for bishoprics were all but accounted fiefs heritable in the great families of the Merovingian kingdoms. He nearly died at the age of 10 from “fever”.

His wife died giving birth to their son and Hubert retreated from the court, withdrew into the forested Ardennes, and gave himself up entirely to hunting. However, a great spiritual revolution was imminent. On Good Friday morning, when the faithful were crowding the churches, Hubert sallied forth to the chase. As he was pursuing a magnificent stag or hart, the animal turned and, as the pious legend narrates, he was astounded at perceiving a crucifix standing between its antlers, while he heard a voice saying: “Hubert, unless thou turnest to the Lord, and leadest an holy life, thou shalt quickly go down into hell”. Hubert dismounted, prostrated himself and said, “Lord, what wouldst Thou have me do?” He received the answer, “Go and seek Lambert, and he will instruct you.”…

Saint Hubertus (German) is honored among sport-hunters as the originator of ethical hunting behavior.

During Hubert’s religious vision, the Hirsch (German: deer) is said to have lectured Hubertus into holding animals in higher regard and having compassion for them as God’s creatures with a value in their own right. For example, the hunter ought to only shoot when a humane, clean and quick kill is assured. He ought shoot only old stags past their prime breeding years and to relinquish a much anticipated shot on a trophy to instead euthanize a sick or injured animal that might appear on the scene. Further, one ought never shoot a female with young in tow to assure the young deer have a mother to guide them to food during the winter. Such is the legacy of Hubert who still today is taught and held in high regard in the extensive and rigorous German and Austrian hunter education courses.

The legacy is also followed by the French chasse à courre masters, huntsmen and followers, who hunt deer, boar and roe on horseback and are the last direct heirs of Saint Hubert in Europe. Chasse à courre is currently enjoying a revival in France. The Hunts apply a specific set of ethics, rituals, rules and tactics dating back to the early Middle-Ages. Saint Hubert is venerated every year by the Hunts in formal ceremonies.

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