So, were all the St. Faicre’s Day (August 31) cards that you sent on recycled paper, and are you recycling the ones you received? Did you perhaps have a watermelon piñata for your traditional St. Fiacre’s Day party, a real watermelon, suspended above the anxious guests, who would be rained upon by sweet pink goodness (made even better by a couple of generous injections of grain alcohol)?
No, St, Fiacre was an Irish monk, and those festivities would be as inappropriate to commemorate him as green beer is for commemorating the Irish St. Patrick. According to the online Catholic Encyclopedia, St. Fiacre led “a life of great mortification, in prayer, fast, vigil, and the manual labor of the garden,” where he grew plants for food and for medicine. He gained such a reputation as a healer that he included a hospice in his monastery (source).
What a cool dude, right? If he were alive today, he might be called the green saint, would be “into” reiki, and would have a jug of kombucha tea brewing. But, his saintly dudeness becomes less appealing when we read further.
Whether this was the result of his personal prejudice or simply the standard procedure of Irish monasteries, women were excluded “on pain of severe bodily infirmity” from his monastery. Whether that meant that he refused women his ministry of healing as well, I cannot find. Perhaps it is an appropriate irony that he is listed as the patron saint of, besides gardeners, those who suffer from sexually transmitted diseases (source).
I come from families who gardened. My father would plant a garden, and my mother would can, pickle, and freeze what he grew. For some years, I had an orchard of about sixty fruit frees. Now, I follow the path of St. Fiacre only in tending to a few orchids on the porch (which you can read about here), mowing the lawn, and enjoying the yard when I hang clothes on the line – my “solar clothes dryer.”
But, we all need plants in our lives – men and women (may the good saint note). Of course, we need them for food for our bodies, but – regardless of our religious traditions – we need them for food for our souls. A friend of mine used to say, “I need to get my hands in the dirt.” That is an almost sacramental act that we all need. Our salvation may not depend upon it, but sometimes, our sanity does.
I have another article that sounds as if it might be about a gardening holiday, but is not. Check out “Happy Bloomsday – Belatedly!” (here).