SAINT ISIDORE THE FARMER (c.1070-1130), holy man – Patron saint of farmers, laborers, livestock, rural communities, Madrid, Spain, the United States National Rural Life Conference
Today, the Church honors Saint Isidore the Farmer, whose life reflected a profound and deep faith, and who never ceased to commune with the God he loved so dearly.
Isidore was born about the year 1070 in Madrid, Spain. His family was poor and, when he was barely old enough to wield a hoe, Isidore entered the service of John de Vergas, a wealthy landowner from Madrid. He worked faithfully on the Vergas estate outside the city for the rest of his life. Isidore married a young woman as selfless and upright as himself who also became a saint –Maria de la Cabeza. They had one son, who died as a child.
Isidore had deep religious instincts. He rose early in the morning to go to church and spent his holidays devoutly visiting the churches of Madrid and surrounding areas. All day long, as he walked behind the plow, he communed with God. His devotion, one might say, became a problem, for he was often accused by his fellow workers of showing up late and neglecting his duties because of lingering in church too long.
He was also known for his love of the poor, and there are accounts of Isidore supplying them miraculously with food. He was also known for his great concern for the proper treatment of animals.
Legend tells us that Isidore’s employer became suspicious about the amount of time he was spending in prayer. One morning, after Isidore left the local parish after Mass, his employer followed him and saw Isidore take the plough into a field. The employer was about to confront him when, in the pale, misty light of dawn, he saw, what he thought to be, a second plough drawn by white oxen moving up and down the furrows. Greatly astonished, he ran towards it; however, as he began to approach the second plow, it disappeared and he saw only Isidore and his single-plow.
In such simple tales, we find reflected the spirit of Saint Isidore, who never ruled a diocese or was martyred for his faith, but who truly served God in the only way he knew – in the fields and on the farm. Yet, his devotion and faithfulness mirrored those in higher places who bore more famous names.
Isidore died on May 15, 1130, from natural causes, and was canonized a saint – together with Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, and Philip Neri – by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622.
We commemorate the feastday of Saint Isidore the Farmer on May 15.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org, stisidorestow.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Collect of the Roman Missal from the Proper for Saint Isidore)
“Lord God, to whom belongs all creation, and who call us to serve You by caring for the gifts that surround us, inspire us by the example of Saint Isidore to share our food with the hungry and to work for the salvation of all people.
“Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”