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Monday, 18 August 2014

18 August 670: St. Fiacre the Abbot, who was born in Ireland about the end of the sixth century, died on this day. He retired to a hermitage on the banks of the Nore at Kilfera, County Kilkenny. Disciples flocked to him, but, desirous of greater solitude, he left his native land and arrived, in 628 AD, at Meaux in what is now France. St. Faro was the Bishop there and generously received him. He gave him a solitary dwelling in a forest, which was his own patrimony, called Breuil, in the province of Brie.

Here he founded a Monastery and a Hospice. He resided in a little cell and led a frugal existence surrounded by a small garden, which he worked himself. He was very strict on the rule that no women should be about the place. He was noted for his great ability to cure the sick and many flocked to him to be cured.

Saint-Fiacre is now a commune in the Seine et Marne department in the Île-de-France to the north west of Paris.

After his death his Shrine became a place of Pilgrimage and in later centuries he had some very famous devotees. Anne of Austria attributed to the meditation of this saint, the recovery of Louis XIII at Lyons, where he had been dangerously ill; in thanksgiving for which she made, on foot, a pilgrimage to the shrine in 1641. She also sent to his shrine, a token in acknowledgement of his intervention in the birth of her son, Louis XIV. He is also a patron saint of gardeners and of the cab-drivers of Paris.

From about 1650 French coaches for hire were called fiacres because the first establishment to let coaches on hire, in the middle of the seventeenth century, was in the Rue Saint-Martin, near the hotel Saint-Fiacre in that City.