Feast day: August 30

Hermit at Meaux (France). Born in Ireland; died c. 670. Also known as Fiachra, Fiaker, Fiacrius, Fialer, Fevre.

The Irish hermit of Kilfiachra, Saint Fiacre, migrated to Gaul about 626 where he was given hospitality and a piece of land by Saint Faro (f.d. October 28) at Meaux, which was part of his own patrimony.

Tradition has it that Bishop Faro offered him as much land as he could turn up in a day, and that Fiacre, instead of using a plough, drove furrows into the ground with the point of his staff. He cleared the land of tree and briars, made himself a cell and garden, and built an oratory to the Blessed Virgin. Thus, Fiacre’s hermitage arose, which became the abbey of Breuil to house his many disciples, and a hospice for travellers.

Although many sought his advice, and the poor and sick looked to him for relief, he strictly guarded his hermitage and chapel from women. Stories are told about the fates of those females who trespassed-even after his death. There was a persistent tradition that Fiacre had been offered and declined the throne of Scotia (Ireland).

He has one of the strongest cults in France, one that had already started within his own lifetime because of his extraordinary sanctity, concern for the poor and suffering, and remarkable cures. His chapel and shrine, eventually at Meaux, were much visited by those seeking healings, especially those suffering from haemorrhoids.

After the Battle of Agincourt, Henry V allowed his soldiers to pillage Fiacre’s shrine, but the cart bearing his relics could not be moved beyond the boundary of Fiacre’s monastery. It is said that Henry died of haemorrhoids on the Feast of Saint Fiacre.

In art, Saint Fiacre is portrayed as an abbot carrying a shovel. He might also be shown in a Benedictine habit with a heavy staff, interceding for the sick, with pilgrims in the background, and a basket of vegetables in the foreground.

He is venerated at Kilfiacha, Ireland, and Saint Fiacre at Seine-et-Marne, France. He is the patron of cabdrivers, gardeners, florists, trellis-makers, boxmakers, brass-beaters, coppersmiths, lead-founders, needle-makers, hosiers, tile-makers, and potters. He is also the protector of field and garden fruits (because of the vegetables he grew around his hermitage), and invoked against fistula, haemorrhoids, tumours, colic, headache, sterility, and sickness.