Gotta Garden

Sunday, February 22, 2009

SAINT FIACRE...Patron Saint of Gardeners

In my own garden, I am not one for statues, particularly those of people. In other people's gardens, I find them fascinating. What I may like for myself has absolutely no bearing on what I enjoy seeing elsewhere. Still, there was one statue that interested me...

It's no mystery if you read the title above. For some time, I have searched here and there, but never finding one that suited me. There are lots of Saint Francis ones around, but that's the not the Saint I desired. After all, he is often pictured with certain animals...that I'd rather not welcome to my garden....

I found a few things....a garden marker, a booklet on St. Fiacre (more on that a bit later)...a plaque I regretted later that I had not purchased... Then, I ventured into the gift shop at Lewis Ginter while attending the symposium I wrote about. It's always fun to browse around in there and I seldom leave without finding something I...need. It appeared that they had a new offering of garden statuary. To my shock, there were some of St. Fiacre (seldom have I found these). Since I would be back the next day, I carefully looked at some, deciding to table the decision overnight.

The next day I went right to the statutes, but....well, one was too small, one was too brown...and all had faces that were rather...scary....not the feeling I want in my garden. (You begin to see why this has been difficult for me.) I cast my eyes over towards the St. Francis ones....when one...just really appealed to me. I hesitantly looked at the label, mostly just curious who it was...expecting it to not be St. Fiacre...when, I did a double take...and took out my reading glasses, just to be sure. It was! St. Fiacre. I had never seen him quite like this.

Instead of just holding a shovel, he actually has one foot on it...and in his other hand, he is reading a book (undoubtedly the Bible). His expression is peaceful. I just loved it! Reading and gardening are two of my very favorite things!

Here he is...inside for now...until we determine exactly where he will reside...

I'm sure the picture doesn't do him justice. He is probably around 30 inches high. Not sure, as I haven't measured him. He is rather heavy, but that's good...he won't blow over.

If you don't know, here is a brief bit about St. Fiacre (roughly pronounced Fee Ahhh Ker):

He was born in Ireland in the late sixth century. Of fortunate circumstances, he was educated at a monastery. His father was a warrior and spent much time away from home. He was devoted to his mother; however, she died when he was in his late teens. Rather than take up the warrior life, he left and began a reclusive life of prayer and devotion.

People in desperate circumstances of sorrow, hunger and sickness began to seek him out. He fed those that were hungry from his own garden, ministered to those who were sick with his herbs and gave God's blessings to all.

Desiring solitude, he journeyed again....and again, the people came. He was much beloved by all who knew him.

St. Fiacre decided to go to France, probably in a very simple boat. It was said that his prayers caused the winds and waves to still. For centuries, a bottle of water from St. Fiacre's well was thought to guard against shipwreck.

Settling in France, St. Fiacre heeded God's voice to "Care for my people" and eventually established a monastery. Needing more land to provide food, he asked the Bishop and was told that he could have as much land as he could dig in one day. St. Fiacre prayed and the next morning went out with his spade. Wherever it touched earth, trees and bushes were felled and uprooted, stones were turned aside and trenches opened up.

A woman observed this and ran to tell the Bishop. The Bishop saw St. Fiacre kneeling in prayer and the amazing amount of land that had been cleared...and knew he was witnessing a miracle. While still praising God, St. Fiacre collapsed in exhaustion on a rock and rested. The rock formed a resting place for the Saint. This stone can still be seen.

Numerous other miracles have been attributed to St. Fiacre. He still rests in death (believed to be around 670) at the same village church where the stone that curved to fit his body resides. His feast day is August 30th.


There's your education for today! Many thanks to Leona Woodring Smith whose booklet Saint Fiacre (Patron Saint of Gardeners) provided the reference for the information above. Her booklet contains many more details (more miracles) as well as much more information about the time period. I purchased mine at the National Cathedral gift shop.


GardenJoy4Me said...

This truly has been an education for me. I'm not religious but I find anything connected to gardening very interesting and I had no idea there was a saint for gardeners ! .. the statue is perfect .. it will blend in yet hold its own presence with simple lines .. the foot on the shovel is a wonderful touch !

EAL said...


Chandramouli S said...

I am a person who loves to have props in garden - especially statues, only I don't have a place! I find your statue so beautiful. His face looks so peaceful. Thanks for a short biography on him. Interesting read. If you asked me what prop I'd go for - I'd say Cupid, Athena, Satyr, Indra, Vasanta (Personification of Spring god), and the list goes on!

Gotta Garden said...

Thank you, GardenJoy4Me...It isn't often, for me at least, that I find something that I just know is right. This was one of those rare times.

Thanks, EAL!

Aww, have the space we want vs the space we actually have...I'm sure there's a philosophical question and answer in there, something along the lines of wanting what you have, but...I suppose that's why we visit other gardens (because we can't have it all)...and in some tiny measure, I think, gardens you visit and love become a bit your own, too.

Why did I say all that??? Who knows. I'm sorry you don't have room...are you sure...for even one?? We gardeners are clever about finding a way to fit in something we just have to have...maybe it will come to you...I hope so!

Take care now...and thanks everyone!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your interesting article. Will try to find the booklet you spoke of. My book on saints says legend calls him a misogynist and I am not crazy about that idea. I have a statue of him in my garden like the ones you mentioned that have animals portrayed with him. Also have a St. Anthony in my backyard by my bird feeders and a Celtic cross in one flowerbed. Not really a statue nut but it can't hurt to have an influence for good around. Now I just need something to put with my miniture donkeys, my goats, my chickens. Just kidding but then I have 20 acres to play with. Thanks again.

Gotta Garden said...

Hi Anon...hmmm, the Saint with the animals is St. Frances, not Saint Fiacre....

I certainly agree that a little influence for good around can't hurt! And, lucky you...20 acres! I can only dream of that kind of space (and the help to go with it)...

Thanks for your comment!

Karen said...

I just bought the same statue of St. Fiacre--he's my first statue and I hadn't heard of him. I found him among the plants at a nursery and was drawn to the peaceful expression on his face. I'm learning about the saints as part of my conversion to Catholicism so I really appreciate your beautiful blog.
Thank you, Karen

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