Today is a big day for Spanish falconry and the worldwide falconers' community. The Vatican has recognized San Francisco de Borja as Patron Saint of Spanish falconers. This is due to the efforts of Real Gremio de Halconeros, the Spanish Royal Guild of Falconers, led by D. Antonio de Castro García de Tejada.  Francisco was a great falconer and a companion of the Emperor Charles V, who was the emperor who received two white gyrfalcons from the French King François in exchange for releasing the king's two sons he had been holding hostage. Here is the official declaration: "Congregatio pro Culto Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum, vigore facultatum a Summo Pontífice FRANCISCO tributarum, attentis expositis, cum electionem et aprobationem ad iuris praescripta peractas ese constet, dictis precibus pro indulto annuit atque: SANCTUM FRANCISCUM DE BORJA, PRESBYTERUM PATRONUM APUD DEUM CCETUS CETRERÍA ESPAÑOLA Y REAL GREMIO DE HALCONEROS. Confirmat, omnibus com iuribus et privilegicis iuxta rubricas consequentibus..."

Francisco joins more than a few other patron saints and holy men associated with falconry across several major world religions. In the 2009 IAF Journal is a learned article by the late former IAF President Christian de Coune on this subject; see the pfd on http://iaf.org/eNewsLetters.php . Online registration to the site is required for download.

 

The Guild is a group of falconers linked to the Spanish monarchy for a thousand years. The Spanish Kings always distinguished the work of the Royal Falconers who were chosen from the noble families of the ancient kingdoms. Before joining the royal service they had to demonstrate their mastership of the art of falconry and swear their allegiance to the King . From the 17th century belonging to the Guild of Falconers was so coveted a distinction that the kings granted up to 50 titles of Honorary Falconer to honour families they particularly wanted to distinguish.

Today the restored Real Gremio de Halconeros is under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Juan Carlos and forms the world's oldest hunting group . Its objectives are the dissemination and retrieval of traditions that bound falconry with the Royal House of Spain and the City of Madrid, to emulate the service provided by ancient falconers who loyally and faithfully served their monarchs and to reinstate closer historical ties that united the ancient Arab cultures with the Spanish culture through the art of falconry. It numbers among its members distinguished active falconers and academics and plays an important part in the UNESCO recogintion.