Saint Godric of Fichale (sometimes known as Saint Goderic) is an historical figure died on 21st May 1170 at the age of approximately ninety and shortly after his death he became a saint, although he was never formally canonized. In life he was an English merchant and also a hermit. He lived in the town of Finchale which gave him his suffix. The main record of his life comes from the writings of contemporary monk Reginald of Durham. Godric had humble beginnings but came to prominence after several arduous pilgrimages around the Mediterranean and when he returned to England was permitted to live as a hermit. He grew in influence as a wise and holy man whose countenance was sought by both Thomas Becket and Pope Alexander III. He is best remembered for his kindness towards animals and the way in which he protected wild animals from forest hunters.
Frederick Buechner's semi-historical novel about the saint is told in Medieval style, giving the impression that it is Godric himself recounting the story of his life in a very humble manner. Buechner's Godric has a balanced view of his own character and is honest about both his highest points and acts of piety as well as his sins. This internal struggle within Godric earned the book critical acclaim because it is both a novel and also an effective springboard for Medieval study. It also brings characters to life when they were previously confined to factual third person history books. As well as presenting the main character of Godric, the novel also tells the reader about Saxon and Norman history, everyday life and count culture. There is also a great deal within the novel about Christian asceticism which is a particular interest of Buechner, himself an ordained Presbyterian minister. An American theologian, he is also the author of more than thirty books. Godric was his most acclaimed and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.