Memorial of St. Isidore the farmer

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St. Isidore

The above image is by The Catholic Worker artist Ade Bethune.

Go into almost any mission church from the Spanish settlements in the American west and you will find an image of St. Isidore the farmer. In Spanish, he is called San Ysidro. He is the patron of Madrid, near the farm where he lived and worked with his wife Maria, who is known in Madrid as Santa Maria de la Cabeza.

Isidore was a farmer all his life. He was not educated formally, but he had a deep knowledge of the seasons, the weather and the land. His love of the land was matched by his love of God. He was known for praying as he walked behind his plow, as he seeded the earth, weeded and harvested his crops. Though he and Maria were poor, they always brought food to people even poorer than themselves.

Their lives were hard. Maria bore one son, who lived only a short while. But they persevered in faith and in hope.

If there are children in your household, keep this day by planting some seeds in a flowerpot (if it is still too cold in your area to plant outside) or in a part of your yard or garden. If you do not have any land around your house or apartment, contact the local library for a list of nearby community gardens. You can get a plot there and garden with others, some of whom are bound to become friends.

As you prepare your own garden plots, ask the blessing of St. Isidore for our earth and the plants that anchor and nourish it. St. Isidore is the patron saint of farmers, peasants, brick layers, and laborers, and several Spanish cities honor him as their patron including Madrid, Leon, and Saragossa.

St. Isidore, pray for us.