Garden Lifestyle

Giving Thanks for the Patron Saint of Gardeners

In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season, let’s recognize the accomplishments of someone who dedicated his life to healing the sick and poor through the power of growing vegetables and herbs.

This statue of Saint Fiacre watches over the herb gardens of the Huntsville Botanical Garden in Huntsville, Alabama.
Photo/Illustration: Jodi Torpey

The next time you need to clear and cultivate land for planting fruits, vegetables or herbs, you may want to call on Saint Fiacre for his blessing.

Saint Fiacre was an Irish monk who travelled to France in the seventh century to fulfill his missionary work. The legend of how he was able to find a place to build a monastery is a good one.

As the story goes, he was promised a piece of land by Saint Faro if he could surround it with a large ditch-a ditch he would have to dig in just one day.

Some versions of the tale say Saint Fiacre used an ivory cane to draw the perimeter of the proposed monastery and the ditch simply dug itself. Others say he used his staff to dig the ditch, and trees and rocks miraculously moved away to make room for the monastery.

After the monastery was built, Saint Fiacre planted a vegetable garden and became known for the quality of the vegetables he grew there. People were drawn to him for food and healing and some brought tubers, bulbs and seeds for him to plant.

Most accounts of his life say he used his garden-grown herbs to cure many kinds of ailments. Saint Fiacre lived and gardened at the monastery until he died in 670 AD. To celebrate his work, a special feast day is typically held on September 1 to honor this humble gardener.

Paintings of Saint Fiacre show him dressed in peasant’s clothing either holding or working with a spade. Many gardeners place statues of him in their vegetable and herb gardens to help create a beautiful space and to recognize his mission to help others by growing food.

Gardeners have also been known to call on him for help when planting their vegetable beds. After all, miracles happen in gardens every day. 

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