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Why St. Eustace and St. Hubert are patron saints of hunters

Eustace

Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 09/20/21

Both saw a miraculous vision of an illuminated cross between the antlers of a stag.

While most hunters in the United States are familiar with St. Hubert and his connection to patronage, few realize that his story is nearly identical to a saint who lived about 600 years before him.

St. Eustace was a 2nd-century Roman who loved to hunt and saw a miraculous vision of a cross between a stag’s antlers. This encounter converted him and he was baptized shortly after it. His feast is September 20.

St. Hubert was born in the 7th century, and had a habit of skipping Mass to go hunt. Then one day he saw a white stag with an illuminated cross between its antlers. This converted him and he went on to become a bishop. His feast is November 3.

Both saints became patrons of hunters, though St. Hubert was well-known in Northern Europe, while St. Eustace was celebrated in Southern Europe. Also, their feast days mark the typical deer hunting season in various countries.

Furthermore, both are depicted in a similar way in sacred art, but there are a few key differences.

According to the Archaeological Journal, you can tell the difference by what they are wearing.

In pictures and early paintings both saints are represented with their hounds and a stag bearing the crucifix between its horns, but I believe there is this invariable and certain distinction, namely that St. Eustace is always portrayed as a warrior, while St. Hubert has the habit of a hunter or the vestments of a bishop, and carries a horn.

Historians often wonder if the story of St. Hubert and the stag was attached to this saint based on the story of St. Eustace, since his story was in circulation for many centuries prior.

Whatever the case may be, both saints continue to be invoked by hunters, that they may have a safe and prosperous hunt.

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