I never knew a Catholic/Christian named Isidore. I had always thought that the name, Isidore, was primarily a Hebrew/Jewish name. In fact, several years ago, when my cousin, Vicki, discovered who our mysterious, missing grandfather was, his name turned out to be Isidore. It proved my point; Isidore Schul was a Hebrew man from Krakow. (Yes, we are part Hebrew and some of our relatives perished in the Holocaust. But that is a story for another day). This is about the name, Isidore.
Well, I was wrong about the name. All I had to do was discover a saint I had never heard of. That saint's name is Isidore who became St.Isidore the Farmer. Ironically, he was named after St. Isidore of Seville who is a Doctor of the Church. Just like that I had discovered two Catholic Isidores. I had been simultaneously "Isadored" by a Hebrew and two Catholics. I had hit the “trifecta”.
Most likely, many of you have heard of St. Isidore(s). Since I never had, it was a bit of fun tying the Hebrew aspect of the name to a Catholic saint. It fit all the times I have mentioned how we Catholic/Christians are all rooted in Judaism. Since one Isidore at a time is enough, here we will focus on Isidore the Farmer.
Isidore was born in Madrid to peasant farmers in the year 1070. He was named and christened after Archbishop Isidore of Seville who held that post for over three decades and would one day become St. Isidore of Seville. Isidore's mom and dad were quite poor and before long, Isidore had a hoe in his hand working the soil
A wealthy landowner from Madrid, Juan de Vergas, brought Isidore into his employ. Isidore was still a boy and little did anyone ever think that the "boy" would work on that estate for the rest of his life. But that is what happened.
Isidore was deeply religious and got up extra early every morning to go to Mass. As a young man, Isidore met Maria de la Cabeza and they fell deeply in love. Maria was as devout and as generous as her new husband and they were married. They immediately set a wonderful example for married Catholics. They both had a genuine love for the poor and many times sacrificed what little they had so others could eat.
Isidore and Maria had a son and they named him, Illan. Legend has it that when Illan was a toddler, he fell into a deep well and there was no way to get him out. Isidore and Maria knelt together and joined hands in prayer and the well slowly filled, lifting Illan to the top so he could be saved. His mom and dad believed God had given them a miracle to save their son. In thanksgiving for the miracle, they vowed to remain celibate for the rest of their lives. They were truly people of great faith because when Illan died not long after, they never doubted God for a moment or went back on their vows.
People told stories of how Maria always had food on the stove for those in need. She knew that most everyday Isidore would bring home any hungry person he came across. One time he brought home more people than they had food for. Maria told her husband that there was nothing left. He told her to check the pot again. When she went back and looked it was full. She fed all the people he had brought home with him.
Isidore died on May 15, (also his feast day) 1130. He was canonized a saint on March 12, 1622 by Pope Gregory XV. He is the patron saint of farmers and laborers. St. Isidore was canonized along with four other well known saints: St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Francis Xavier and St. Philip Neri. St. Isidore is a part of the group known in Spain as the "Five Saints". One final noteworthy thing about St. Isidore, he was six feet five inches tall and his body has been found to be incorrupt.
After Isidore's death, Maria became a hermit and many miracles were attributed to her also. She was beatified in 1697. In Spain they call her "Santa Maria de las Cabeza" even though she has yet to be officially canonized.
We ask all of these saints to pray for us.
*This article appeared in Aleteia on May 15, 2017
©Copyright Larry Peterson 2017 All Rights Reserved.