Saint Fiacre

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Saint Fiacre
Eglise Notre-Dame Bar-le-Duc Vitrail Saint Fiacre 30 04 2012.jpg
Stained glass window, Notre-Dame, Bar-le-Duc, France, 19th century.
Born 7th century
Died 18 August 670
Feast 1 September in Ireland, 18 August elsewhere. Many are still in debate showing dates of 1 August as well as 30 August. Recently, 11 August is being recognised as the official compromise. Note though that two other Saint Fiachras existed - Saint Fiachra, Abbot of Urard, County Carlow (Ireland) and Saint Fiachra, Abbot of Clonard,.[1]
Attributes spade; man carrying a spade and a basket of vegetables beside him surrounded by pilgrims and blessing the sick[2]
Patronage medicine; gardeners; taxi cab drivers; venereal disease sufferers; barrenness; box makers; fistula; florists; hosiers; pewterers; tile makers; ploughboys.[2] However, due to more than one saint bearing the name, exact patronage for each saint is probably unclear.

Saint Fiacre (Irish: Fiachra; Latin: Fiachrius; Italian: Fiacrio, French: Fiacre, Fèfre, Fèvre, German: Fiakrius; died 18 August 670[3]) was born in Ireland at the end of the 6th century. Fiachra is an ancient pre-Christian name from Ireland. The meaning has been confused by various mis-translations, referring it to meaning "battle king",[1] or it maybe being a derivative of the word fiach "raven".[4] but the name actually means hunter/tracker or something that hunts/tracks things down. Some have been known to refer to Fiachra as even meaning "predator". The name can be found in ancient Irish folklore and stories such as the Children of Lir.

He was better known in France, where he built a hospice for travelers in what is now Saint-Fiacre, Seine-et-Marne.


Saint Fiacre, 15th-century statue, Church of St Taurin d'Évreux

Fiacre lived in a hermitage in County Kilkenny.[3] His unwanted fame as one skilled with herbs, a healer and holy man, caused disciples to flock to him. Seeking greater solitude, he left his native land and sought refuge in France, at Meaux.[3]

He approached St Faro, the Bishop of Meaux, to whom he made known his desire to live a life of solitude in the forest. St Faro assigned him a spot called Prodilus (Brodoluim), the modern Breuil, in the province of Brie.[5] Here Fiacre built an oratory in honour of the Virgin Mary, a hospice in which he received strangers, and a cell in which he himself lived apart. He lived a life of great mortification, in prayer, fast, vigil, and the manual labor of the garden. He died on 18 August 670.


The legend of Fiacre goes that St Faro allowed him as much land as he might entrench in one day with a furrow; Fiacre turned up the earth with the point of his staff, toppling trees and uprooting briers and weeds. A suspicious woman hastened to tell Faro that he was being beguiled and that this was witchcraft. Faro, however, recognized that this was the work of God. From this point on it is said St Fiacre barred women, on pain of severe bodily infirmity, from the precincts of his monastery.[6]


St. Fiachra's garden

His relics are installed in Meaux Cathedral. His feast day is under debate; in Ireland it is 1 September; elsewhere it is variously 18 August, 1 August, or 30 August, with 11 August growing in acceptance as an official compromise. Meaux continued to be a great centre of devotion to Fiacre, especially during the 17th and 18th centuries. Visitors to his shrine included Anne of Austria, Bousset, and Vincent de Paul.[7]

To celebrate the Millennium, St. Fiachra's Garden was opened in 1999 at the Irish National Stud, Tully, County Kildare, Ireland.


St Fiacre is most renowned as the patron saint of those who grow vegetables and medicinal plants, or gardening in general.[8]

Fiacre is the patron saint of the French commune Saint-Fiacre.

Saint Fiacre is commonly invoked to help heal people suffering from various ills, based on his reputed skill with medicinal plants. His reputed aversion to women is believed to be the reason he is known as the patron saint of venereal disease sufferers.[7] He was known for healing hemorrhoids, which were called "Saint Fiacre's illness" in the Middle Ages.

Fiacre (carriage)[edit]

The connection between Saint Fiacre and taxi drivers arose because the Hotel de Saint Fiacre in Paris, France, rented carriages, usually to travel to the hospice at Saint-Fiacre, Seine-et-Marne. People who had no idea who Fiacre was referred to the small hackney coaches as "Fiacre cabs", and eventually as "fiacres".[2] Similarly, Viennese horse-drawn buggies are referred to as Fiaker. Open horse-drawn cabs in Egypt are also called "fiacres".[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ó Corráin, Donnchadh; Maguire, Fidelma (1981). Gaelic Personal Names. Dublin: The Academy Press. ISBN 0-906187-39-7. 
  2. ^ a b c Catholic Forum Patron Saints Index, Saint Fiacre. Accessed 2007-12-06.
  3. ^ a b c St. Fiacre. Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  4. ^ Hanks, Patrick; Hodges, Flavia (1990). A Dictionary of First Names. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-211651-7. 
  5. ^ "Saint Fiacre". 
  6. ^ St. Fiacre - Catholic Online
  7. ^ a b Farmer, David Hugh (1997). The Oxford dictionary of saints (4. ed. ed.). Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press. p. 183. ISBN 0-19-280058-2. 
  8. ^ Marius, Richard. "Vita - Saint Fiacre", Harvard Magazine, 1998
  9. ^ Palin, Michael (2009). Around the World in 80 Days. London: Phoenix.


External links[edit]