Last modified: 2005-12-03 by ivan sache
Keywords: saint-hubert | deer: head (yellow) | cross (yellow) | horn: hunting (yellow) |
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Municipal flag of Saint-Hubert - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 24 July 2005
The municipality and town (Ville) of Saint-Hubert (5,786 inhabitants; 11,116 ha) is located 20 km north-northwest of Neufchâteau in the massif of Ardenne. It is made since 1977 of the former municipalities of Arville, Awenne, Hatrival, Mirwart, Saint-Hubert and Vesqueville. The city developed around the St. Hubert's Benedictine abbey and has proclaimed itself European capital city of hunting and nature.
Saint-Hubert (3,075 inh.; 3,770 ha) was originally a Merovingian monks'
community called Andagium, ruled by St. Bérégise and founded in the
VIIth century by Pepin ofHerstal, Mayor of the Palace and de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Austrasia, and his wife Plectrude. In 817, the
community was nearly extincted and Bishop of Liège Walcaud sent Benedictine monks to resettle the abbey. Pope allowed in 825 the Bishop
of Liège to transfer St. Hubert's relics to Andagium. The domain of Saint-Hubert included
more than 30 villages. In the XVIth century, the French Huguenots
trashed the abbey and destroyed the saint's relics. The city of
Saint-Hubert developed around the abbey; in 1680, Abbot Cyprien
Maréchal prescribed two weekly markets; in 1769, there were five fairs
in Saint-Hubert, which became an important trade center on the road of
Upper-Meuse. The abbey was suppressed in 1797 by the French
Industrialization of the city started in the XIXth century; until recently, typical workers' boroughs have been preserved, such as the Fays borough for the wood workers, the Lavaux borough for the construction workers and the Tram borough for the factory workers.
Hubert succeeded to saint Lambert, Bishop of Maastricht, murdered in 705. Hubert completed the evangelization of the diocese of Liège and transfered in 716 St. Lambert's relics to Liège, where he built a church. Hubert is therefore considered as the founder and first bishop of Liège. The legend says that St. Hubert predicted the date of his own death one year in advance; he died on 30 May 727 in Tervuren, near Brussels, after having consecrated a new church. His body was brought back to Liège and buried in the St. Peter's church. St. Hubert was canonized in 743 and his body was transfered in 825 to the monastery of Andagium, which was renamed St. Hubert's abbey. The painting "The Exhumation of St. Hubert", today at the National Gallery in London, was painted in the late 1430s in Rogier van der Weyden's workshop for the chapel of St. Hubert in the St. Gudula's church in Brussels.
The well-known legend of St. Hubert and the crucifix-bearing deer
emerged probably in the XII-XIIIth century, but it appeared in written
documents in the XVth century only. As apostle of the forest of
Ardenne, Hubert was associated with a deer, in order to match the
association of the Roman goddess Diana, supposed to be worshipped in
the former Arduina forest, with a doe.
There is no historical record on Hubert's youth. The tradition says he was born around 656 as the son of the Duke of Guyenne, with Merovingian royal blood. He is said to have been a relative of Charles Martel. Hubert settled in the courts of Austrasia and Neustria. He married Floribanne, King Dagobert's daughter, and became famous as a pagan jet-setter.
Hubert enjoyed hunting in the forest of Ardenne; on a Holy Friday, in a very isolated part of the forest, he spotted a whitedeer bigger and nicer than usual with a crucifix between the antlers and heard a voice asking him to repent, which caused his conversion to the Christian religion. A similar story relates St. Eustacius' conversion. It was also used to explain the foundation of the Holyrood abbey near Edinburgh (Scotland) by David I in 1128.
The place where Hubert met the deer was a matter of controversy: in the XVth century, people from Offagne say that the event took place in their St. Hubert's Wood; the conversion was then "relocated" in the forest of Ardennne, close to the St. Hubert's abbey and eventually, after the French Revolution, in the building called Converserie, north of Saint-Hubert. The Converserie was a former farm or hospice given by Count de la Roche to the abbey in 1152. There was a chapel there, where Hubert was said to have rested after his meeting with the deer. Anyway, the place was isolated and unpleasant and was abandoned by the abbey. In 1904, hunters rediscovered the ruins of the chapel and rebuilt it to honour their patron saint. After years of debates, the hunters came back to the basilica of the former St. Hubert's abbey. The Sts. Peter and Paul's basilica (XVI-XVIIIth century) is one of the most visited basilicas in Europe, with more than 100,000 visitors each year.
St. Hubert, celebrated on 3 November, is the patron saint of hunters, furriers and trappers. He is also invoked against rabies for unknown reasons. The medieval tradition says that Hubert was given a stole by the Blessed Virgin and that placing a thread of the stole on a small incision made in the forehead skin would cure rabies. This might be related to hydrophobia, a symptom of rabies, and a fishing accident which nearly killed Hubert.
Saint-Hubert is the birth city of the famous watercolourist Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840). Redouté illustrated botany books and is particularly renowned for its roses. He taught several famous people, including Queen of France Marie-Antoinette, Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais, and Louise-Marie d'Orléans, first Queen of the Belgians.
The Saint-Hubert hound was bred by the monks of the St. Hubert's abbey. The dog was introduced under the name of Bloodhound in England by William the Conqueror in the XIth century. The Saint-Hubert constituted the royal pack in France until the reign of Saint-Louis. Then it was crossed with the White Pointer to breed the King's White Hounds, used from the reigns of François I to Louis XIV. The Saint-Hubert was initially used for hunting big game, such as boars. When it was replaced in the packs, it was used as a bloodhound because of its excellent nose.
Arville (890 inh.; 2,065 ha, including Lorcy) seems to be one of the oldest parishes in the region (840). In the XXth century an inabitant of Arville founded a churn and washing machine factory. An envelope factory was created at the same time. Both factories were recently closed.
Awenne (396 inh.; 908 ha) was a municipality (mairie) of the lordship of Mirwart. At the end of the XIX th century, there were some 100 workers making clogs. After the Second World War, the use of clogs was discontinued and all the workshops were closed, fortunately replaced by one of the biggest civil engineering companies in Belgium. Awenne is known for its eight cast iron fountains.
Hatrival (657 inh.; 1,505 ha, including Poix) is one of the oldest settled places in the region of Saint-Hubert. Industry developed in the valley of Poix near the brooks Leupont and Lhomme, which have a constant flow very convenient to produce energy. Sawmills, forges and grainmills were built there by Dom Nicolas Spirlet, last abbot of Saint-Hubert from 1760 to 1794. After the building of the Arlon-Brussels railway in 1858, bigger factories were built such as sawmills producing wooden pillars for the coal mines, papermills, and a slag factory later transformed into a pin manufacture. The valley of Poix is today a main spot of industrial archeology.
Mirwart (109 inh.; 1,285 ha) was the seat of an important feudal domain and castle, built for the first time in 955. The lords of Mirwart belonged to powerful families such as la Marck and Arenberg and were avoués (managers) of the domain on behalf of the St. Hubert's abbey. The village of Mirwart is considered as one of the most beautiful in central Ardenne.
Vesqueville (519 inh.; 1,360 ha) is probably as old as Hatrival. Vesqueville belonged to the St. Hubert's abbey but relations with the abbey were often difficult. Peat was extracted in Vesqueville until the end of the XIXth century.
Ivan Sache, 24 July 2005
The municipal flag of Saint-Hubert is blue at hoist with the head of a
deer bearing a cross surmonting a horn with its strap, all in yellow,
and yellow at fly with six blue flames reaching the border of the flag.
According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 7 April 2000 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 24 August 2000, with the following description:
La moitié à la hampe bleue et chargée à la partie supérieure d'une tête de cerf crucifère jaune et à la partie inférieure d'un cor de même couleur, garni de sa guiche; la moitié au large jaune garnie de 6 flammes bleues partant de l'axe du tablier pour aboutir au bord flottant.
The left part of the flag is a banner of the municipal arms.
The official description states that the blue and yellow field shall be of equal width. However, the image of the flag shown on the front page of the municipal website has a smallest yellow field.
Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 24 July 2005