The Patron Saint of Hemorrhoids

Many diseases have saints associated with them, such as St. Bartholomew for Parkinson’s disease and St. Vitus for chorea. The Herky Ruck disease was once called the St. Vitus dance. Not to be outdone hemorrhoid sufferers also have a patron. The patron saint of hemorrhoids is an Irish born monk named St Fiacre. He was from County Kilkenny in the province of Leinster in the south-east of the country in the late sixth or early seventh century. He lived out his early life in a hermitage where he became famous as a holy man, herbalist and healer. Because of these sacred qualities, he developed a large following.

For some reason, Fiacre became unsettled and, like so many of his countrymen, decided to emigrate, leave the Emerald Isle and settle elsewhere. He crossed the sea and emigrated to Meaux in the French province of Brie (near present-day Paris). There he was well received by Faro, the local bishop (now a saint), who allotted him land at Brodolium (modern-day Breuil). ) Over time, Fiacre built a hospice, an oratory, and a separate cell for himself. It is said that he lived a life of great humiliation – of prayer, fasting, vigils, manual labor in his garden and healing the sick, especially hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids were known as the “Saint Fiaker’s Disease” in the Middle Ages, and he may have suffered from them himself. It is said that one day he was sadly sitting on a stone and that stone softened, giving him a relief that can be achieved with remarkable hemzem.

There is also a slightly different version of how St. Fiacre became the patron saint of hemorrhoids and how hemorrhoids were known as St. Fiacre’s Curse. When St Fiacre first arrived in Meaux, Bishop Faro is said to have decided to give him land but not to have cared much for him. So he gave St. Fiacre an extra small shovel and told him he could have all the land he could clear in a single day. St. Fiacre got to work and worked so hard to maximize his possessions that he developed a serious case of prolapsed hemorrhoids. Then he sat on a rock and prayed, seeking guidance and a solution to his situation. Miraculously, his hemorrhoids disappeared and legend has it that the imprint of his hemorrhoids has remained on the stone to this day. According to legend, anyone suffering from hemorrhoids who sits on the stone and prays today will be healed. St Fiacre lived in Breuil until his death in 670 and his relics are kept in Meaux Cathedral. His feast day is September 1st.

It is not known why an Irishman was proclaimed the patron saint of hemorrhoids – apart from the myths told here – as the Irish seem to suffer from hemorrhoids no more than any other ethnic group. According to some estimates, around 15% of all Irish people will have the disease at some point and around half of the population will contract the disease in their lifetime. However, the Irish belatedly decided to give St. Fiacre the credit he deserves well some 14 centuries after his death. In 1999 they created and dedicated a picturesque shrub garden to Irish National Stud in Tully County Kildare. This is very much appreciated by the jockeys who like to find peace there.

St. Fiacre has other mandates in addition to caring for hemorrhoid patients. He is also the patron saint of gardeners and taxi drivers, especially in France.

Thanks to John Callan

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