st-hubertSaint Hubertus or Hubert (c. 656–727 AD) was the patron saint of hunters, mathematicians, opticians, and metalworkers. He was born in the European city of Maastricht of French nationality at 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 Pippin of Heristal, 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.

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. But 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.”

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.

Be that as it may, Hubert set out immediately for Maastricht, At the time, Lambert was the Bishop of Maastricht, who kindly received Hubert and became his spiritual advisor. Having distributed all his personal wealth among the poor, he studied for the priesthood, was soon ordained, and shortly afterwards became one of St. Lambert’s chief associates in the administration of his diocese. By the advice of St. Lambert, Hubert made a pilgrimage to Rome in 708, but during his absence, Lambert was assassinated by the followers of Pippin.

Hubert actively evangelised among the pagans in the extensive Ardennes forests and in Toxandria, a district stretching from near Tongeren to the confluence of the Waal and the Rhine. Hubertus died peacefully in a place called Fura, located 30 miles from Liège, 30 May 727 or 728. He was first buried in the collegiate church of St. Peter, Liège, but his bones were exhumed and translated to the Benedictine Abbey of Amdain (“Andagium”, in French “Andage”, the present-day Saint-Hubert, Belgium) in the Ardennes in 825. The abbey became a focus for pilgrimages, until the coffin disappeared during the Reformation.

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