Fiacre (Fiachra) (d. c.670) was anchorite bishop of Brie in the district of Meaux in northern France. Biographical information is very sparse; the chief source, the ‘Vita Faronis’ (the Life of Bishop Faro (d. 672) of Meaux), states that Fiacre went to France as a man of mature years in search of greater solitude, and that the bishop gave him a plot of land on which to build a hermitage and plant a vegetable garden. Faro himself had some acquaintance with the rigours of Irish asceticism as he was the brother of a disciple of St Columbanus (qv).
Fiacre built an oratory in honour of the Virgin Mary and a hospice for travellers. St Kilian (qv) of Aubigny, a relative or acquaintance, is said to have visited him there. Fiacre was apparently a man of great charity and sanctity; after his death his tomb acquired a reputation as a place of healing. His relics were translated into an oratory at the abbey of Saint-Faron-de-Meaux on the feast of the Holy Trinity in 1234; following the destruction of the abbey during the Reformation they were placed in the cathedral at Meaux. His oratory was a place of veneration for pilgrims from many parts of France throughout the middle ages and into modern times. One of his devotees was Anne of Austria, who prayed to him for the birth of a son (the later Louis XIV), and afterwards sent a token of gratitude to the shrine.
St Fiacre's name is commemorated in many litanies and books of hours. His relics at Meaux are still venerated; his aid is invoked against various maladies, including venereal disease and haemorrhoids. Because of his reputation for growing vegetables and herbs, he is the patron saint of gardeners. He is also the patron saint of cab-drivers in Paris, seemingly due to the circumstance that the Hôtel Saint-Fiacre on the rue Saint-Martin was a focal point for the hackney trade; for much the same reason his name became attached to a type of four-wheeled horse-drawn cab, the fiacre.
Apart from his extensive cult, the sources for the life of St Fiacre are of uneven historical value. The early Life of Faro is almost contemporary, but the later Life of Fiacre, supplemented with an account of his miracula, was compiled in the twelfth century and is of doubtful historicity. An entry in one version of the Martyrologium Hieronymianum refers to him as a bishop, which may be correct. Apart from the late Martyrology of Gorman (Máel Muire Ua Gormáin (qv)), the Irish martyrologies and other sources evidently had no knowledge of him. There is at least one medieval monastic site reputedly founded by him in Ireland, Clontubrid (parish of Sheffrin, barony of Crannagh), Co. Kilkenny.