Lifelong CatechesisForming Catholic identity across generations
The sound of Alleluias fills the 50 days of Easter Sunday to Pentecost as we give thanks for the gift of our salvation. The Easter Triduum recalls the passion and resurrection of Christ in the sacred journey from Holy Thursday to Easter Vigil. "Dying he destroyed our death. Rising he restored our life."
Isidore, Husband and Farmer, 1070-1130
Unlike his namesake honored on April 4, this Isidore was not well educated; nevertheless, he had a lasting influence on the people of Spain. Born of poor parents in Madrid, Isidore began working in the fields of a wealthy Madrid landowner, John de Vargas, when he was very young. He spent his whole life in those fields.
Isidore’s parents instilled a great love of prayer and a revulsion of sin in him. He rose early each morning to go to Mass and, while laboring all day in the fields, communed with God and the saints. But his attendance at daily Mass angered some of his fellow workers, as it caused Isidore to arrive later at work than they did. John de Vargas hid himself one day to confirm this and, sure enough, Isidore did arrive after his co-workers. De Vargas was about to take him to task for his lateness when he saw a team of snow-white oxen plowing the field parallel to Isidore’s team. With unknown figures driving this team, de Vargas realized that supernatural help was compensating for the work that Isidore missed. Thereafter John de Vargas came to admire his field hand and Isidore is said to have worked miracles for the benefit of his employer’s family.
Isidore married a girl as simple as himself and they had one child, a boy who died young. His wife, Maria Torriba, is also a saint, honored under the name, Santa Maria de la Cabeza.
Though poor himself, Isidore and Maria always shared what they had with those who had less. Isidore often invited the poor into his house for a meal and ended up with only the leftover scraps for himself. On one occasion, Isidore was late for a confraternity dinner. When he arrived, he had with him a train of beggars. His hosts noted that they had saved only his portion and that there was not enough for this large group who had come with him. Isidore replied that there would be plenty for himself and Christ’s poor. When the food was served, there was ample for everyone with food leftover.
Many other miracles have been attributed to Isidore. About eighty years after his death, Isidore appeared in a vision to the King of Castile who was then fighting the Moors. Isidore showed him a hidden path, which allowed his soldiers to surprise and defeat the enemy. Another time, the intercession of Isidore brought King Philip III of Spain back from the brink of death to good health. His shrine in Madrid has been the site of many other miracles.
St. Isidore is one of the “Five Saints of Spain” (together with St. Ignatius, St. Francis Xavier, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Philip Neri). He is the patron of farmers and of Madrid. He is also a patron of laborers and of the national Rural Life Conference in the United States.
Isidore's message today: Saints have been profound and learned scholars and saints have been very simple people. It matters not to God what station you have in life as long as you use the talents that he has given to you in his service -- in most cases, this means service to your neighbor.