St. Isidore the Farmer

Isidore was born in Madrid in 1070 to very poor, yet pious Catholic parents who, unable to support him, sent him to work for a wealthy landowner, John de Vergas, with whom he remained for his entire life.

He married a very religious woman by the name of Maria Torribia, also known as Maria de la Cabeza, and she, like Isidore, later became a saint. They had one son who died unexpectedly as an infant, and their grief inclined them to believe that their son’s death was a sign from God and consequently vowed to live a life of perfect continence.

Isidore frequented Holy Mass every morning, which invariably made him late for work. However, despite his tardiness, it is said that his plowing was nevertheless ‘accomplished by angels’ and resulted in three times more productivity, something his co-workers and his boss are said to have witnessed. As a consequence of these miraculous events, Isidore was accorded great respect. Isidore loved the poor and he loved animals.

The miracle of the multiplication of food occurred on two occasions, once when Isidore fed a flock of starving birds and once again when he shared his food with a large group of beggars. At a parish dinner, Isidore arrived early and went into the church to pray. When he eventually arrived at the parish hall, he was not only late but had brought with him a large group of beggars.

The parishioners were understandably upset, worried in case there wasn’t enough food to go round. But the more they filled up their plates, the more there was for everybody else. St. Isidore told them, ‘There is always enough for the poor of Jesus.’

Isidore died on May 15, in the year 1120 at the age of 60 years and was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in March 1622 along with four other very notable Spanish saints. The group, known as ‘the five saints’, included St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Francis Xavier, St. Phillip Neri, and St. Isidore. His body has been found incorrupt. His memorial is celebrated on May 15th according to the Roman Calendar.

St. Isidore is known as the patron of Madrid, as well as León, Zaragoza, and Sevilla. He is also considered the patron saint of farmers, peasants, day laborers, and rural communities. He is also the patron saint of the United States National Rural Life Conference.

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