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Catholic Activity: August 30: St. Fiacre

If you have always thought of a fiacre as a type of carriage, you're right. But the name came from a saint who probably never had a carriage of his own — just a monk's cell and a vegetable garden.

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St. Fiacre, to give his name the French spelling it later acquired, was born of nobility in Ireland in the seventh century. (In Ireland, he was called Fiachrach.) Never interested in the worldly life, Fiacre sailed to France in search of solitude so he could devote himself to God. He was led by divine guidance to the Bishop of Meaux, who gave the young man a solitary dwelling in a nearby forest. Here the anchorite made himself a cell and built an oratory. For food, he depended on the small garden he cleared himself and carefully tilled. Many people came from great distances to seek his advice or beg for alms — Fiacre helped them all as best he could.

Incidentally, his name became synonomous with a four-wheeled cab because when this vehicle first came into use in Paris in 1640, it was chiefly hired at the Hotel St. Fiacre to take pilgrims on the first stage of their journey to his shrine at La Brie. The name was later transferred from hotel to vehicle.

On the last day of August we can honor the good St. Fiacre, patron saint of gardeners, with a recipe based on the fruits of the earth.

Activity Source: Cook's Blessings, The by Demetria Taylor, Random House, New York, 1965

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