Golden Legend – Saint Fiacre

[Saint Fiacre]Article

Here followeth the Life of Saint Fiacre.

Saint Fiacre, the glorious hermit, made many virtuous deeds in the territory or country of Meaux in the protection of Saint Pharon, that time bishop of the city of Meaux. Many miracles needful and necessary as then he made in this world, as the legend of the lessons of his faits show clearly enough, and to the end that this present narration that maketh of it mention, be not too much prolonged, and that the life of Saint Fiacre and of Saint Pharon assembled together may appear to them that shall read it, it is good as to me seemeth, that at this beginning I make mention of the excellence of Saint Fiacre, how for the love of our Lord he left his country, both father and mother, and all his goods, and came into the parts of France. On that time that the glorious Saint Pharon left and relinquished the worldly knighthood, and that he was ordained and made bishop of Meaux, the same monk named Fiacre, of the nation of Scots, being in his country, and moved by devotion to serve our Lord more straitly, departed with such fellowship as fortune gave to him, and came unto Meaux in France, where he prayed the holy bishop there that he might dwell under his protection. When Pharon had heard his demand, right gladly he accorded to it, and as a piteous pastor, granted that Fiacre should dwell with him after his own pleasure as long as he would. When the hermit Fiacre had impetred his petition or demand, he went and cast his sight low towards the earth, and onely, with all his heart and thought, and without speaking, made his prayer to God that of his grace he would have pity on him. And so fervently he besought and prayed that his face rendered great drops of water, and was over red and sore chauffed. And when the blessed Saint Pharon saw him in such estate, he began to be marvelled, and weened that he was aggrieved of something, and anon he called to him one of his servants and said to him: Go to yonder man and make him come secretly to speak with me. The messenger did as to him was commanded, and led Saint Fiacre unto the bishop. When he was before his presence, the holy man Pharon, full of virtuous thoughts, to the end that better he might declare his intention, said to Fiacre in this manner: My brother, I require thee that thou wilt put from thee this sorrow and heaviness which is in thine heart, to the end that thou mayst better receive my words. Then said Saint Fiacre to him; Fair father reverend, if thou wilt have pity and compassion on me, thou shalt mowe make me to cease this heaviness at thy commandment, but to the end that thou mayst the better understand my answer, proceed forth on thy demand. Then the right reverend bishop Pharon, beholding on Fiacre said to him: First, my right dear brother, I require of thee to tell me in what land thou wert born, and the cause why thou departedst from thy country, also where thou art bound for to go, and what thy name is. Furthermore if thou have need of counsel, of words, or of other things that I may do, I call God to my record that right gladly I shall endeavour me to fulfil it. Saint Flacre then, kneeling, rendered to him thanks and mercies, and after said to him: My father and my mother engendered or begat me in an isle of Scotland named Ireland, and forasmuch that I desire to lead my life solitary, I have relinquished and left my land and my parents, and I do seek a place for to lead my life hermitic and solitarily, and by my right name I am called Fiacre, and therefore meekly I beseech thine high and ineffable paternity that, if there be in some part of thy bishopric a little place within a wood where I might use and employ my life in prayers and in orisons, that thou wilt not defer to me the grant of it. When Saint Pharon heard this, he was thereof joyful and glad, and said to Saint Fiacre: I have a wood far enough from hence which is within our own heritage, and is called by the folk of the country Brodile, the which wood, as I suppose, is convenable for to lead life solitary, and if it be so that thy desire is to see it, let us two go thither together for to behold and see the place. Then answered Saint Fiacre: So as thy paternity commandeth, I desire that it be done anon. Then the piteous and holy bishop, as soon as he might, led Fiacre unto the right desired place. And when they were come thither Saint Pharon said to Saint Fiacre: My brother, this place is belonging to me by mine own heritage, coming from mine ancestry, and if it seem to thee good and pleasant for to dwell and abide in, as much of it as behoveth to thee, devoutly and with good heart I present it to thee, and full gladly I give it to thee for to do withal thy good pleasure. And when thus he had granted and said, Fiacre fell to his feet, and for great joy weeping, rendered to him graces and thankings, saying: O right blessed father, the same place only of right pleaseth me and delighteth right greatly, for it is a holy place and far from abiding of any folk. After these words they took their refection or food of nouriture divine, and soon after returned together unto the city of Meaux. And on the morn next, Saint Fiacre took his leave of Saint Pharon, which gave to him his blessing, and when Saint Fiacre had received it, he departed and went to the place beforesaid, where he founded a church in the honour and reverence of our Blessed Lady, and beyond it, a little way thence, he builded a little house wherein he dwelled, and there harboured he the poor that passed foreby. When then he had done and accomplished all that to him seemed necessary for the time, this very friend of God, Fiacre, continually without cease laboured and watched into the service of our Lord Jesu Christ, and ever in good virtues from better to better multiplied, and much victoriously against his adversary the enemy resisted, and against his flesh, and that that he had, right heartily to the poor gave and distributed. If some there were that time that had lost their strength, or that were dumb, deaf, counterfaited, blind or vexed with the enemy, or of whatsomever sickness that it had been, they all came, or made them to be borne, to this holy man, and anon after that he had laid his hands on them, by the grace of our Lord, and by his prayers, they returned homewards as whole as ever they were; and in such wise flourished the odour of the renomee of the miracles that our Lord showed by him through all the bishopric of Meaux, that they began all to have great hope in his suffrages and prayers. Among all other things it happed that a holy man named Killenus, born in Scotland, that was come from Rome as a pilgrim, and was arrived within the territory or country of Meaux, when he heard speak of the good renomee of the holy man Fiacre, he anon went towards him, and Saint Fiacre much benignly received him, and when he understood that they were both of one land, and by affinity of blood nigh parents, instantly prayed him that he would abide with him certain days, which Killenus accorded to it, and as they were together, and that they had rehearsed the extraction of their parents, and spake of the sweet sentences of the holy scriptures wherewith they nourished and fed themselves by the great joy that they took when they spake of it, they recommended each other to our Lord, and took leave to depart one from the other. And for certain, the renomee of him grew so much, and flew so far that, from far countries much people came daily to him for to recover their health in so much that the holy man saw that of needs he must make his habitation or housing more spacious and greater than it was, and thought to him good and necessary to make a great garden, wherein he should have all manner of herbs good for to make pottage with, for to feed the poor when they should return towards him, and so he did.

And howbeit that Saint Pharon before that time gave to him leave to take as much of his wood as to him needed, nevertheless he durst not take on him the hardiness for to make his house greater ne more than it was tofore till he had spoken again with Saint Pharon, for to demand leave of him to throw down the trees and other things growing about his house, to whom the venerable and courteous bishop gave of his wood as much as he might pick and delve, and throw down with his own hands, to do withal as of his own livelihood. Saint Fiacre then inclined his head and rendered thanks to Saint Pharon and took his leave of him, and returned into his hermitage. And when he had made his prayer he drew his staff over the earth. Now may ye understand thing much marvellous and of great miracle, for, by the will of our Lord, wheresoever the holy hermit Fiacre drew his staff, the trees fell down both on one side and on other, and round about where he drew his staff was a ditch suddenly made. And in the meanwhile that he drew so his staff, there came a woman which marvelled much how the earth clave and ditched by itself only by the touching of the holy man’s staff, and with great haste she ran towards Meaux, and denounced this thing to the bishop Pharon, testifying and insuring that the holy man Fiacre was full of wicked and evil art, and not servant of the sovereign God; and when she thus had said she returned forthwith towards the holy man, and with an evil presumption went and said many injuries and villainies to Fiacre, contumelying and blaspheming him, and commanded him by the bishop that he should cease of his work, and that he were not so hardy to be any more about it, and that for the same cause the bishop should come there.

When the holy man saw that he was thus accused to the bishop by a woman, he ceased his work that he had begun, and made no more of it, and sat on a stone much thoughtful and wroth. Wherefore if our Lord had before showed great miracles by him, yet greater and more marvellous miracle was made for him, for the stone whereon he sat, by the will of God waxed and became soft as a pillow to the end that it should be more able and easy for him to sit on, and it was caved somewhat as a pit thereas he sat on, and for testification and proof of this miracle, the said stone is as yet kept within his church, and many sick folk have been and are daily healed there of divers sicknesses only to touch and to have touched the said stone. The bishop then by the provocation of the said woman’s words came towards the holy man Fiacre, and when he saw the marvels that God showed by him, as well of the trees that by themselves were thrown down to the earth of either part, also how the earth only by fraying of his staff was ditched about, as of the stone that was thus caved and made soft like a pillow, he knew well that he was a man of great merit towards our Lord; and from thence forthon he loved the hermit Saint Fiacre more than before, and honoured him much. The ditches, beforesaid, be yet as now showed to them that go to visit his church. When then Fiacre, as is above said, sat on the stone, full sorry and wroth that the woman had so accused and blasphemed him to the bishop, also for the injuries and villainies that she had said to him, he made his prayer to our Lord that no woman should never enter into his church, without she be punished by some manner of sickness.

Wherefore it happed on a time that a woman, of much noble and rich estate, desired to know what thereof should befall if a woman had entered into his church. The which woman took her maiden or servant and shoved her suddenly within the chapel. And anon, seeing all they that were there, the said woman lost one of her eyes, and the maid innocent as to the deed, came out again with her plein health.

On another time, another woman of Latininak put one of her feet within the said chapel or church, but her foot swelled by such manner that all the leg, knee, and thigh of it was grieved with sickness. And many other miracles have been thereof showed, wherefore the women shall ne ought not enter into it. The good and holy Saint Fiacre in his lifetime resplendished by miracles and virtues, and after, rendered right gloriously his soul unto our Lord, and sith after his temporal death, at his own grave by his merits and prayers, our Lord showed, and as yet now showeth, many miracles, as to restore in good health the poor sick folk languishing of their members of whatsoever sickness or languor that it be, who with good and contrited heart cometh to the church where the said grave or tomb is, and devoutly beseecheth and prayeth God, and the good and holy Saint Fiacre, the which by his glorious merits may be unto us good friend toward our said Lord and God. Amen