Saint Fiacre: The Patron Saint of Gardeners

(This inscription is taken from a beautiful art work hanging on the wall of the church entrance in Leichhardt, New South Wales, Australia)

Saint Fiacre was born in Ireland and was of noble birth. As he advanced to manhood, he was permitted to spend some time in the small monastery near his home. He was a very gentle boy, more interested in learning with the bards and monks than in games and rough play. He eventually became a monk. His greatest joy was to be with his brother monks, toiling in the fields around the vines and orchards. He learned a thousand facts on plants and flower life from an Italian teacher. Together they built a splendid garden and chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mother, on what was called “The Hill of Sage.”

The work continued and the gift of healing came to him as he grew to greater stature. Then journeying to France, and with the permission of the Bishop of Meaux, he built a monastery in the Province of Brie. Another chapel was built, again in honour of Our Lady, surrounded by flower gardens – a never-ending tribute. A hospice, or travelers’ house of rest, was also erected and became the stopping place for many. Vegetables and aromatic herbs filled the garden plots. All over were flowers of kind and hue. The word of his healing powers spread far and wide. People with disease of mind or body were made whole once more.

This gentle and caring man’s dream of solitude was never to be: too many needed him. He died at Meaux, France, on the 30th of August, 670. His remains were placed in the Meaux Cathedral, and in 1479 Louis XI had the shrine covered in silver-plate in the form of a Gothic Cathedral.

Glorious St. Fiacre, thou canst do beautiful things, send a breeze of roses to calm this feverish life of ours.

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