Saint Fiacre

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jun 3, 2007 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

Our backyard is my chapel. The flowers, the birds and squirrels, the wind through the trees, all serve to quiet my mind, and help usher me into that still place that I long for but rarely find. I am restless and easily distracted, which isn’t a winning combination for contemplative prayer.

Like the good Catholic girls that we are, we have a statue of the Blessed Mother in the front yard, and Saint Francis in the backyard. During this spring’s shrub and herb-buying rounds, we saw a statue of Saint Fiacre at a nursery in Jamesport. We had no idea who this guy was, but loved the idea of a saint with a shovel, flowers, and a bunny snuggled next to his feet. I promptly dubbed him the “patron saint of Peter Rabbit” (Farmer Macgregor was probably Presbyterian, anyway).

After we got home, we decided to put him in the section of the backyard we have devoted to herbs, both medicinal and culinary. Good food can also be good medicine. He settled in the patch of herbs he always belonged. I had no idea how perfect that place was for him until I started researching “garden saints” for this morning’s blog post.

The life of this 7th century monk is steeped in legend, but it is generally believed that he was born in Ireland, and may have been known originally by the Irish name Fiachra. He was raised in the monastery where he enjoyed the planting and harvesting of crops and studied the healing properties of herbs. He had an appreciation for all of nature and healed the sick with herbs from his garden. In search of solitude, Saint Fiacre left Ireland and in 626 arrived in France where he established a hermitage in the Diocese of Meaux. He remained there until his death in 670.

He reminds me a little of the character of Brother Cadfael, the monk-detective-herbalist in the Ellis Peters series of mystery adventures.

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