Who is the Patron Saint of Knitters?

Someone on one of the forums I haunt asked this question. Being extremely interested both in knitting and in religious history, it was necessary to immediately start a search. Some say that the patron saint is Fiacre. It seems he was the patron of cap makers, and when knitted caps were “invented”, Fiacre got the nod by default. An early guild for knitters was organized in Paris in 1527 was named The Guild of St. Fiacre. So who was this person with the strange name?

It is said that Fiachra, or Fiacre, traveled to France from Ireland, in search of a quiet place in which to withdraw from society and devote his life to God. The bishop of Meaux granted him a plot of land on which he built a hermitage with a garden and a hospice for travellers, which over time grew into the village of Saint-Fiacre in Seine-et-Marne. Fiacre was reknowned for his healing powers, both spiritual and physical, but women were never allowed into the hermitage, possibly because one uppity female said he practiced witchcraft. Those who attempted to transgress usually suffered consequences, as in the case of a lady who was instantly struck mad. I wonder how Fiacre would feel today about being the patron saint of a craft performed by so many women!

In addition to knitting, Fiacre is also patron of cab drivers and gardeners. French cabs are called fiacres because the first coach-for-hire enterprise in 17th century Paris was near a house named for him. Fiacre’s relics are still housed and visited in the cathedral at Meaux. I first heard this saint’s name at a local herb garden, Caprilands, which up until a few years ago, was internationally known. I even have a tiny statue of Fiacre in my own herb garden.

One of many miracle stories in Fiacre’s CV is that of a man whose genitals were sorely afflicted (I bet!) and, by making a wax model of his painful organ, which by custom would have been burned at the altar, was cured. Now there’s a picture! Did I mention that Fiacre is also the patron saint of STD’s? No lie!

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