Photo by Melody
Congratulations to all our photo contest participants! Check out the winning photos here. We will have the 2015 calendars available to order from Zazzle soon.

St. Fiacre, Patron Saint of Gardeners

By Gwen Bruno (gwen21August 13, 2012
bookmark

If you see a statue of a saint in a garden, more than likely itís St. Francis with bird on his shoulder. St. Francis may have protected the birds and animals of the garden, but the actual patron saint of gardening is an Irish monk named St. Fiacre, whose feast is celebrated in Ireland and France on September 1.

Gardening picture

(Editor's Note: This article was originallhy published on September 7, 2009.  Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)

St. Fiacre has been recognized as patron saint of gardeners (as well as cab drivers and florists, among other things) since medieval times. Born in Ireland in the 7th century, Fiacre was raised in a monastery.  During the Dark Ages, monasteries were repositories of learning, and it is here that Fiacre became a skillful user of healing herbs.  As he earned fame for his knowledge of plants and healing abilities, disciples flocked to him.  Fiacre sought more solitude and left Ireland for France where he established a hermitage in a wooded area near the Marne River.  Here Fiacre built an oratory in honor of the Virgin Mary and a hospice where he received strangers. He himself retreated to a solitary cell, living a life of prayer and manual labor in his garden.

The legend upon which Fiacre’s sainthood rests is this: Fiacre asked the local bishop, Bishop Faro, for more ground on which to plant food and herbs. Faro told him he could have as much land as he could entrench in one day. After prayer, Fiacre used the point of his staff to turn the earth, topple trees and dig up briers and weeds to prepare the land for a garden.  (Don’t we all wish we had one of those staffs?)  A suspicious local woman was convinced that such a feat could only be performed  by sorcery.  Bishop Faro, however, viewed Fiacre's act as a gift from God and proclaimed it a miracle. Supposedly, the woman’s jealousy caused Fiacre to implement a ban on women from his monastery. Exclusion of women, however, was the rule rather than the exception in monasteries of the time.
Image
As word of Fiacre's miracle spread, people began flocking to him for food, healing and wisdom. He once again was venerated by followers, and a monastery was formed.  The monastery grew fruits and vegetables to feed the hungry and cultivated herbs and flowers to use in healing the sick. Visitors to Fiacre’s garden brought seeds and plants from afar, and his gardens became famous throughout Europe.

After his death in 670 A.D., people who visited his monastery claimed that it had healing power. His shrine at Breuil is still a destination for pilgrims seeking relief from ailments. Fiacre’s feast day is a matter of debate. Some sources list it as August 31, others as Sept. 1, yet others August 1, 18, or 11. The Catholic Church considers Fiacre the saint of growing food and plants used in medicine. This was broadened to include all of gardening. And how did Fiacre become the patron saint of taxi cab drivers? It began at the Hotel de Saint Fiacre in Paris, which rented carriages.  People began referring to these small hackney carriages as “Fiacre cabs”, and then just “fiacres”. Thus their drivers took on St. Fiacre as their patron and protector.

Fiacre is depicted in art and statuary as an elderly man carrying a spade. His fictional counterpart is Brother Cadfael, the mystery-solving monk of the Ellis Peters novels. Like the real monk Fiacre, Brother Cadfael is a gardener and herbalist in a time when herbs were not just pretty or tasty, but an essential part of medicine.


Image

Sources:

Information About St. Fiacre

Saints of the Garden

St. Fiacre

The Lazy Gardener: St. Francis vs. St. Fiacre

Fiacre

 

Photo credits:

St Fiachra's Garden in Kildare town by Peter Clarke

15th century statue of Saint Fiacre in the church of St Taurin d'Évreux by Theoliane

 

 


  About Gwen Bruno  
Gwen BrunoAfter spending 28 years as a teacher and librarian, Gwen Bruno is now a full-time freelance writer residing in suburban Chicago. As a preschooler, she lovingly tended a small patch of weeds in her backyard. Luckily, her parents supported her budding horticultural endeavors, and she's been gardening ever since.

  Helpful links  
Share on Facebook Share on Stumbleupon

[ Mail this article | Print this article ]

» Read articles about: Public Gardens, Garden History

» Read more articles written by Gwen Bruno

« Check out our past articles!



Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
Wonderful article tinytwist 1 1 Sep 1, 2012 6:49 AM
Great article! dispatcher1 16 115 Aug 14, 2012 9:08 AM
question mindyk37 2 20 Mar 8, 2010 3:25 PM
Saint Fiacre patoboyle 3 30 Sep 24, 2009 6:17 PM
Enjoyed the article. shellsnarow 3 21 Sep 24, 2009 3:21 PM
Picture dispatcher1 1 36 Sep 24, 2009 3:07 PM
Mary Gardens lilianrose 1 16 Sep 11, 2009 12:53 PM
Mysogynist or not? Fiacre is a character tabasco 5 65 Sep 8, 2009 5:30 PM
Looking forward to future articles lilianrose 4 40 Sep 7, 2009 4:36 PM
You cannot post until you login.


We recommend Firefox
Overwhelmed? There's a lot to see here. Try starting at our homepage.

[ Home | About | Advertise | Media Kit | Mission | Featured Companies | Submit an Article | Terms of Use | Tour | Rules | Privacy Policy | Contact Us ]

Back to the top

Copyright © 2000-2014 Dave's Garden, an Internet Brands company. All Rights Reserved.
 

Hope for America