Mgr. Franz Hippolyte Courtens is a mysterious figure about whom little is known at present. He was born in Vive Saint Eloi, part of the bigger municipality of Waregem, Western Flanders Province, Flanders Region, Kingdom of Belgium.
He also lived for many years in a Roman Catholic College in the French city of Tourcoing, Northern France.
During World War One and beyond he served as an intelligence officer for the Vatican and possibly for other Allied governments.
A Roman Catholic, he was awarded the Cross “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” and admitted a knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. He also held the Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Thorns, and was appointed a (lay) Monseigneur of the Principality of San Luigi.
In the photograph reproduced above, Mgr. Courtens wears the decoration of a Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Thorns on his right breast.