History of the Order
HISTORICAL NOTE: The following History contains a rendition of the Legend of St. Hubertus as popularized through the ages. Historical writings and source documents have been consulted and verification of dates and facts has been made where possible. However, as with any history which spans 1,000 years, complete accuracy is difficult to achieve and cannot be assured.
THE LEGEND OF ST. HUBERTUS
THE HISTORY OF THE ORDER
The International Order of St. Hubertus
St. Hubert was born circa A.D. 656, probably in Toulouse, the son of the Duke of Aquitaine. He was prominent in the Merovingian Court at Metz, and after the death of his wife following childbirth, was devoted to all forms of pleasure, particularly stag hunting.
According to legend, on Good Friday c. 684, as he was hunting stags in the forest of Ardennes rather than attending church services, he came upon a magnificent animal which he was intending to take, until he saw that the stag had a golden cross between his horns. At that point St. Hubert had a Holy vision that he was to forsake his hedonistic ways, divest all of his worldly possessions and devote his fortune and life to helping the poor. After a subsequent life of piety, he became a very respected and successful Bishop. He died in A.D. 727 and his remains were translated to Amdain (now Saint- Hubert, Belgium).
St. Hubert was widely venerated during the Middle Ages and thereafter. His grave has been a pilgrimage site for nearly 1300 years. His symbol — the stag’s head and golden cross — is a familiar sight all over Europe.
In A.D. 1695, Austro-Hungarian Count Franz Anton Sporck instituted the Order of St. Hubertus to honor St. Hubert’s memory and to promote responsible hunting and wildlife conservation. This order continues to this day as the International Order of St. Hubertus. The motto of the Order is “Deum Diligite Animalia Diligetes,” or “Honor God by Honoring His Creatures.”
The date of November 3rd is the Feast Day of St. Hubertus. It is celebrated each year at the Basilica where he is buried as well as throughout the hunting world in Europe. At the Basilica the hunting horns are blown and hunters on horses with their barking dogs enter into the church for a blessing. The members of IOSH celebrate St. Hubert’s Feast Day with dinners and/or shooting activities.
The convulsions of World Wars I & II led to the dissolution of the Order. After the Second World War, however, the Order was revived by U.S. Ambassador to Austria and American High Commissioner Llewellyn Thompson, along with Commanding General Mark W. Clark, U.K. Ambassador Sir Harold Caccia, the British High Commissioner, Dr. Albert Messany of Austria and Austrian Chancellor Leopold Figl.
The current Grand Master is His Imperial and Royal Highness, Istvan Franz von Habsburg-Lothringen, Archduke of Austria and Royal Prince of Hungary.
Consistent with the creed of the Order, the Grand Master invites outstanding sportsmen who share a passion for hunting, fishing, and conservation, to become Knights of the Order and thereafter to promote sportsmanlike hunting, wildlife conservation, protection of the environment and wildlife habitat, traditional hunting customs and ceremonies, and good fellowship among sportsmen.
The Order in America
- George Wood was appointed Grand Prior and founded the American Chapter in 1968. The first Investiture of American Knights took place at the Bohemian Club in San Francisco. The ceremony was presided over by then Grand Master Messany. View ceremony program here.
- Grand Master Messany retired and George Wood was elected Grand Master. OB Wood was followed by Karl Weber in 1979.
- Grand Master Weber asked Archduke Andreas Salvatore von Habsburg-Lothringen to act as Protector of the Order.
- On January 8, Grand Master Weber asked Archduke Andreas to take the office of Grand Master. Archduke Andreas did so and His Majesty Juan Carlos, King of Spain, assumed the position of Protector of the Order.
- In March of 2013 HIH Archduke Istvan von Habsburg-Lothringen became the fifth Grand Master of the Order since the Restitution. Archduke Andreas assumed the office of Grand Master Emeritus and King Juan Carlos continues to offer the order his protection.