Saint-Hubert, healer of human and animal rabies

par Hervé Bazin, Professeur émérite de la Faculté de médecine de l’Université de Louvain, Belgique, Adel.

This article is dedicated to the history of saint Hubert, who was converted to Christianity after having seen a deer bearing a crucifix between its antlers. He was named bishop in 727 and canonised in 743. In 825, his body was transferred to a Benedictine abbey in the Belgian Ardennes, where his stole, which was said to cure human and animal rabies,
was also kept. The Saint-Hubert abbey then became a highly frequented place of  pilgrimage. Human beings contaminated with rabies were treated by introducing a tiny piece of the miraculous stole under the skin of the forehead (‘taille’) and by prayers, which definitively protected them against rabies. Animals were treated by branding them with a nail (‘key’ or ‘cornet’ of Saint-Hubert) that had been in contact with the miraculous stole.
Review of the evolution of rabies and of the conditions under which the religious practices of Saint Hubert ceased following the discovery of the treatment against rabies by Louis Pasteur.

Bull.Soc.Hist.Méd.Sci.Vét., 2007, 7 : 104-126