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Saint Isidore

Saint Isidore
  • Century: 11th & 12th Century
  • Patronage: Farmers, Agriculture, Day Laborers, United States Catholic Rural Life Conference
  • Feast Day: May 15th

St. Isidore was born in 1070, and was a Spanish day laborer, known for his piety toward the poor and animals.  He is the Catholic patron saint of farmers, and his feast day is celebrated on May 15th.  He was born to very poor but devout parents in Madrid, and was named for their patron, St. Isidore of Seville.  Isidore spent his life as a hired hand in the service of a wealthy landowner on a farm near the city.  He shared what he had, even his meals with the poor.  

Isidore married Maria Torribia, and they had one son.  On one occasion their son fell into a deep well and at the prayers of his parents, the water of the well is said to have risen miraculously to the level of the ground, bringing the child with it.  In thanksgiving to God for this miracle, they vowed sexual abstinence and lived in separate houses.  Their son later died in his youth.  Isidore died on May 15, 1130, at his birthplace close to Madrid.  

Every morning before going to work, Isidore was accustomed to hearing Mass at one of the Churches in Madrid.  One day, his fellow laborers complained to their master that Isidore was always late for work in the morning, and upon investigation, the master found Isidore at prayer while an Angel was doing the plowing for him.  On another occasion, his master saw an Angel plowing on each side of him, so that Isidore’s work was equal to that of three of his fellow laborers.  St. Isidore is said to have brought back to life his masters deceased daughter and to have caused a fountain of fresh water to burst from the dry earth, to quench his master’s thirst.  One snowy day, when going to the mill with corn to be ground, he passed a flock of pigeons scratching vainly for food on the hard surface of the ground.  Taking pity on the poor animals, he poured half of his sack of precious corn upon the ground for the birds.  When he reached the mill, the bag of corn was full, and when it was ground, it not only produced one bag of corn flour, but two. 

Isidore’s wife Maria always kept a pot of stew on the fireplace in their humble home, as she knew Isidore would often bring home anyone who was hungry.  One day he brought home more hungry people than usual.  After she served many of them with the stew, she told Isidore that the stew pot was empty.  He insisted that she check the pot again, and she was able to spoon out enough stew to feed them all again.  He is said to have appeared to Alfonso VIII of Castile, and to have shown him the hidden path by which he surprised the Moors and gained his victory.  When King Philip III of Spain was cured of a deadly disease after touching the relics of St. Isidore, the King replaced the old reliquary with a costly silver one.  St. Isidore was beatified in Rome on May 2, 1619, by Pope Paul V, and was canonized three years later by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622.  

Practical Take Away

St. Isidore was born in 1070, and was a Spanish day laborer, known for his piety toward the poor and animals.  He is the Catholic patron saint of farmers, and his feast day is celebrated on May 15th.  He was born to very poor but devout parents in Madrid.  Isidore spent his life as a hired hand in the service of a wealthy landowner on a farm near the city.  He shared what he had, even his meals with the poor.  He performed many miracles, multiplying food, Angels working with him in the fields to accomplish much more work, and even brought his master’s deceased daughter back to life.  The story of St. Isidore is a reminder of the dignity of work, to work with the poor, and that ordinary life can lead to holiness.  His life shows us that if we have our spiritual self in order, our earthly commitments will fall in order as well.  In 1947, at the request of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, he was officially named patron of farmer, with his feast day being celebrated in all Diocese of the United Sates, with a Proper Mass and Office.