With more than 900 churches, as I’ve noted before, if you’re looking for church-related curiosities, there’s no place like Rome. A friend recently pointed out an oddity that seemed to take the cake. Atop a church between the Pantheon and Piazza Navona is what seems to be a stag with a cross between its antlers, which looks suspiciously like it was taken straight from… a Jägermeister bottle.
No, there is no St. Jägermeister, and the church is Sant’Eustachio (St. Eustace), named for a second century Roman soldier martyred after converting to Christianity. The conversion of Eustace, it seems, was prompted by a vision he had while out hunting. A glowing cross suddenly appeared between the antlers of the stag he was about to shoot, who then spoke to him with the voice of Christ. And, no, he hadn’t been drinking Jägermeister.
The connection with the stiff German liquor is a bit more roundabout. Another saint it seems, St. Hubert, an eighth century Belgian nobleman, apparently had a similar experience while hunting (or just maybe the two stories got confused in transmission). Hubert became the first bishop of Liège and the patron saint of hunters as well as, strangely, rabies victims. The connection to hunting led Jägermeister’s founder, Curt Mast, an enthusiastic sportsman, to adopt St. Hubert’s stag as the drink’s logo. The name Jägermeister means “master hunter”.