03 November 2011

3 November - Saint Hubert

Today is the feast of Saint Hubert, Bishop of Liege, (died 727).

His legend says that he was a profligate young man, interested only in worldly pursuits, most especially hunting.  While enjoying the chase on a holy day (Good Friday in some accounts), he came upon a stag of brilliant whiteness, with the Crucified Christ illuminated between its antlers.  This vision - and the accompanying message that if he didn't change his ways, he was headed for hell -  operated powerfully on Hubert; he renounced the world and took holy orders, eventually becoming the bishop of Liege, where he labored successfully in the conversion of souls in the area of Ardennes.

Naturally, he is the patron of hunters and of dogs, and by extenuation, invoked against hydrophobia, a peril to which hunters are liable.  In France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, Saint Hubert's day signaled the formal commencement of the hunting season.  Huntsmen and their dogs attended Mass in the morning, where all would receive a blessing.  The ceremony done, the horn is sounded, and it is "Yoicks and away!"  Special loaves of bread are blessed at Mass and carried home, where everyone takes a bit as a protection against rabies.  This protection is extended to the dogs, horses, and other animals, who are fed pieces of the blessed bread as well.

The traditional outdoor meal on Saint Hubert's day is hot green pea soup, garnished with sausages an lean bacon.

My God! because Thou art infinite goodness, I love Thee above all things, and repent with my whole heart of my offenses against Thee.  Grant me the grace of holy perseverance.  Have compassion on me, and, at the same time, on the holy souls suffering in Purgatory.  O Mary, Mother of God, come to their assistance with thy powerful intercession.

Say one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and the Prayer to Our Suffering Savior for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.