Fiacre of Meaux

Fiacre, one of the most venerated saints of medieval France, was born in Ireland, where he was probably christened Fiachra. Saint Fiacre He and a few followers arrived, c. 626, in the French diocese of Meaux, where he built a hermitage and where he remained until his death c. 670. It is said that the bishop, Saint Faro, promised Fiacre as much land as he could dig in a day. A local woman complained that he was digging too rapidly, and thereafter Fiacre excluded all women from his chapel on pain of blindness or madness.

He quickly acquired a reputation for sanctity and for miraculous healing powers. So often did he cure one ailment, an ulcerous condition, that it became known as Saint Fiacre's Disease. He was probably the first abbot to set up a hospice for Irish pilgrims, often as penniless as they were numerous, beside his monastery. A curved stone on which he had once sat attracted pilgrims seeking relief from haemorrhoids.

Fiacre was skilful in cultivating plants, many with medicinal properties, and he is patron saint of France's gardeners. He has also given his name to the horse-drawn, four-wheel fiacre cabs, which first appeared in seventeenth-century Paris outside the Hotel Saint-Fiacre.