St. Fiacre is the patron saint of gardeners.* He was an Irish monk from the 7th century AD. He had an extensive knowledge of healing herbs, and throngs of admirers came to learn from him. However, Fiacre wanted to be left alone and fled to France to pursue peace and quiet. St. Faro, the bishop of Meaux, granted Fiacre land for a hermitage near a spring, and said that Fiacre could have as much land as he could entrench in one day. The next day, Fiacre dragged his spade behind him to claim the land he wanted. Everywhere his spade touched, the land was entrenched as if a crew of workers had dug up shrubs and overturned the earth.
When the bishop witnessed the creation of Fiacre’s garden spot, he proclaimed it a miracle. However, a local woman claimed Fiacre used sorcery. While the legend says that henceforth Fiacre excluded all women from his monastery on pain of infirmity to limb, exclusion of women from monasteries was standard practice among the Irish foundations.
I’m thinking of putting a St. Fiacre statue in my garden** (with the idea that, after he died, Fiacre got over his alleged grudge against women). St. Frances and Blessed Virgin Mary statues abound in gardens, and while I’m initially inclined to go with a Mary statue, I’d like something distinctively evocative of living plants and creatures. In Robert Lawson’s Rabbit Hill, the humans place a statue of St. Frances in the garden for the bunnies along with a sign that says, “There is enough for all.” (Yes, in literature, bunnies can read.) However, the St. Fiacre statues often have bunnies sitting by the feet. I like bunnies almost as much as I like bats.
Speaking of things I don’t want sitting by my feet:
In the latest chapter of the War on Slugs, I’ve placed copper tape around the callalilies. The slugs are supposed to get enough of an electric shock that they’ll be repelled and slither away. If it works, copper tape seems to be the humane route to go. Previously, I tried to get the slugs so drunk on cheap beer that they’d just fall into the beer bowl and drown, but I think they just leaned over the sides and took little sips before chomping down on the fresh, crunchy bar-snacks.
*He is also the patron saint of cab-drivers because the Hotel de St. Fiacre in 17th century Paris hired out coaches, and people referred to the coaches as “fiacres.”
**Bede says we need to save our money, so I'm not adding statuary to our garden any time soon... unless Yorkshire Pudding sends me a gnome with the express purpose of harassing slugs. Yikes.