Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Hubert, Bishop of Maestricht and Liege

statue of Saint Hubert of Liege with the deer; date and artist unknown; Sint-Jan Evangelist Church, Tervuren, Belgium; photographed on 21 August 2010 by Wouter Hagens; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Saint Hubert, bishop of Maestricht and Liege, was the son of Bertrand, duke of Aquitain. In his childhood, he was led in the path of piety; but coming afterwards to the Court of King Theodoric, and thence to that of Duke Pepin of Heristal, he lost all love for devotion, and was carried away by the pleasures of the world. Yielding to Pepin’s wish, he married Floribana, a very virtuous duchess, but did not in the least change his conduct. His occupations were gaming and feasting. He was also passionately fond of hunting, and wasted much of his precious time in roving through fields and forests. Saint Oda, a sister of his mother, who had very carefully guided his early youth, was very sad on account of his having given himself entirely to worldly pursuits, and prayed daily to God for his conversion. Her prayer was at length granted. One day, when Hubert was in full pursuit of a noble stag, the animal, suddenly turning round, stood still. Hubert gazed at it in astonishment, and saw a crucifix between its antlers, while from its lips he heard distinctly: “Hubert! Hubert, how long wilt you pursue wild animals, and waste the time given thee to work out thy salvation? I warn thee that, if you wilt not lead a better life, you shalt be cast into hell.” Hubert, who, on seeing the image of his crucified Lord, had immediately dismounted and thrown himself upon the ground, listened trembling, and was deeply moved at these words. A second Saul, he cried: “Lord, what wilt you have me do?” “Go to Maestricht,” was the reply; “Bishop Lambert will tell thee what you must do.”

Hubert, somewhat consoled by these words, although still full of fear at the terrible menace, repented of his past conduct, and immediately went to Saint Lambert. Sinking down on his knees before the bishop, Hubert wept so bitterly that he could not utter a word. Lambert asked him the cause of his grief, and why he had come. Hubert related all that had happened, and humbly begged the holy bishop to show him the path he ought to follow in order not to be cast into hell. The bishop, having encouraged him to trust in the mercy of God, advised him to make a thorough confession* and then instructed him in regard to his future conduct. After this, Hubert returned home, and, without informing any one of what had happened to him, he showed by his life that he was quite a different man. His only desire now was to leave the world entirely, and to serve God more perfectly. The early death of his wife gave him the desired opportunity for doing so; for, God called her to Himself after she had given birth to a son.

Hubert, recognizing the hand of the Almighty in this event, gave thanks to Him, and going to his holy teacher, told him that he was determined to lead the life of a hermit, in order the better to atone for his sins and to serve God in peace. Saint Lambert praised his resolution, instructed him how to regulate his life in the desert, gave him his blessing and dismissed him quite consoled. On his return home, Hubert was informed that his father had become very sick, and hastening to him, he remained with him until his end. By this death, Hubert became heir to the whole duchy; but he resigned it to his younger brother, gave his own possessions to the poor, reserving only as much as was needed for his son, whom he gave in charge of his brother, to be educated according to his station in life. In this manner, Hubert freed himself from every earthly tie, and, going into the forest where he had had the above-mentioned apparition, he led during seven years a most austere and holy life.

After this time, he felt an inner desire to make a pilgrimage to Rome, and having the permission of Saint Lambert, he went thither as a poor pilgrim, and visited with great devotion the churches and the tombs of the Saints. During his stay there, Saint Lambert was cruelly murdered in his church, for having fearlessly reproved the King of France for his unchaste life. An angel appeared on the following night to Pope Sergius, and informing him of the death of Saint Lambert, commanded him at the same time to appoint Hubert, the disciple of Lambert, whom he would see enter the Church of the Apostles on the following day, as his successor. When the Pope awoke, he went into the church, and when he saw Hubert enter in the garb of a pilgrim, he called him and asked him who he was and whence he came. Hubert gave his name, adding that he was a disciple of bishop Lambert, and that the purpose of his pilgrimage was to visit the holy places. The Pope desired to hear no more, but taking Hubert by the hand, led him to the shrine of Saint Peter and said to him: “Your teacher, Saint Lambert has been killed by wicked people, but is already crowned in heaven; and you shall become his successor.” The humble servant of God endeavored to excuse himself, but the Pope informed him of the divine command, which Hubert could not disobey. He was therefore consecrated by the Pope himself, and returned as bishop to Maestricht. Before he had reached the city, his appointment and consecration had been made known, so that he was joyfully received by the people and the clergy, and placed upon the episcopal throne. The first resolution of the new bishop was to conform his life to the example of his holy teacher, Saint Lambert, who was already honored as a martyr. Hubert transferred his see to Liege, where Saint Lambert had been buried; and not satisfied with guarding and leading by word and example the flock entrusted to his care, he also endeavored to uproot entirely the idolatry which still existed in the neighboring places; and his undertaking was blessed with great success.

After having converted many thousand souls to Christ, and administered his functions as a true and holy pastor for nearly 30 years, he was called to receive the eternal reward of his faithful services. A year before he died, his last hour was made known to him by divine revelation, while, at the same time, the glory which was prepared for him in heaven was shown him in an ecstasy. In his last sickness, after he had received the holy Sacraments, he saw a great number of spirits of hell, who menacing him most fearfully, tried to approach him. Asking for holy water, he sprinkled himself and his bed with it and thus drove away the hosts of hell. After this, he raised his eyes on high, and having recited the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, he expired. The power of the intercession of the Saint is still seen at this day, especially in favor of those who are bitten by rabid animals.

Practical Considerations

• “How long will you pursue wild beasts and waste the precious time given you to work out your salvation?” This was asked of Hubert by Christ, the Lord. The same question I address to you. How long will you waste the time of your life? Behold, the present days of your life are the days of your salvation; that is, they are days which God has given you to work out your salvation. You have, until now, wasted so many days, because you did not employ them to the end for which they were given.

How long will you continue thus? Has not the Almighty waited long enough for your conversion? Have you not reason to fear that He will say to you what He said to Hubert: “I warn thee that if you dost not soon change thy conduct, you shall go to hell.” Heed it well: “Soon!” God may suffer from you a certain number of iniquities; He destines for you a certain number of graces, a certain number of. days. How large this number is, you do not know. For some men it is large, for others small. If you fill the measure of sin without being converted, you will die and go to destruction in your sins. When the number of your graces or of your days is full, you will not receive others from God, and your time will have expired in which to work out your salvation. God will then let you die and will banish you eternally from His face. If it is, therefore, your earnest desire to escape hell, follow Saint Hubert, and reform your life. Today the Almighty gives you yet time and grace; whether He will give you the same also tomorrow, I do not know. “We must, therefore,” says Saint Ambrose, “work, with the grace of the Almighty, without delay.” “And we helping, exhort you that you receive not the grace of God in vain,” writes Saint Paul. “For he saith: in an accepted time have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee. Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation!” (2nd Corinthians 6) But who receives the grace of God in vain? Saint Anselm says: “Those who do not cooperate with it, or who, by their indolence, cause the grace received to be idle and of no effect.” Take care that you do not belong to these. Work today with the grace; because today is the day of salvation, a day on which you can work at your salvation.

• Hunting, gaming and such amusements were the pastime and occupation of Hubert: God threatened him with hell if he did not change his conduct. Why this? Is gaming or hunting a mortal sin? No, in itself, it is not. But as Hubert passed most of his time in these diversions, as he was passionately devoted to them, and did not earnestly occupy himself with his salvation, he sinned, and would have gone to eternal destruction, had he not changed his conduct. Heed this most important truth. There are many worldly pleasures and pastimes, which in themselves are no sin; but if we devote ourselves passionately to them, waste much time on them and hence neglect the duties of our station, and do not endeavor earnestly to gain Heaven, then we sin, and may cause our eternal ruin; because we have not used our time well and have not given it to that object for which God bestowed it upon us. My fear that many thus go to perdition, is great beyond words! They flatter themselves with the empty pretext: “I do nothing wrong; playing at this or that game is not doing evil; hunting or dancing is not a sin.” But is it not sinful enough to employ the noble time, given us by God to work out our salvation, almost entirely in idle amusements? Is it not evil enough to do no good? A servant who does no other evil, except not to employ his time according to the will of his master, does evil enough, and must not expect to be rewarded, but to be beaten with many stripes. “And that servant who knew the will of his Lord, and prepared not himself, and did not according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.” (Luke 12) “And the unprofitable servant cast ye out into the exterior darkness!” (Matthew 25)

Examine yourself; and if you are such an unprofitable servant – reform!

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Hubert, Bishop of Maestricht and Liege”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 23 May 2018. Web. 18 November 2018. <>