SAINT ISIDORE THE FARMER. Long before John Belushi uttered the phrase: “Food Fight!” in the 1978 flick, ‘Animal House,’ the production, distribution and sharing of food has been, is, and seemingly always will be, a source of contention. Wars have been waged over farming land; enemies heartlessly blockade food shipments, punishing innocent victims, as Russia did with Ukrainian grain headed to Africa. Some say there was a ‘food fight’ at the Last Supper, for to signal to the other Apostles who the betrayer was, Jesus said “’It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.’ So he dipped the morsel and [took it and] handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot.” [John 13:26]
This week the Church honors a farmer whose love for God, the Creator’s gift of the earth, and Christ’s presence in the poor, literally ‘sowed the seeds’ of his canonization. After praying the Collect for the holy Mass offered in his honor, I’ll tell the story of Saint Isidore.
Saint Isidore – Collect
Lord God, to whom belongs all creation,
A HUMBLE START. Born in Madrid, Spain, in 1070, Isidro was named by his parents in honor of Saint Isidore of Seville; it is still a venerable custom, but not a canonical requirement, to give children a Saint’s name, but it is mandatory for Confirmation, especially if the confirmandi’s name is not a Christian or Saint’s name. Isidro is commonly called ‘Saint Isidore the Farmer’ to differentiate him from his namesake. [Saint Isidore of Seville was a brilliant scholar who died in 636; due to his vast knowledge of grammar, astronomy, geography, history, biography and theology, Saint John Paul II made him the Patron Saint of the Internet.] Now back to Saint Isidore the Farmer who died on May 15, 1130, and who may have never even read a book!
AN ‘EXTRAORDINARY’ ‘ORDINARY’ LIFE. This contradiction was the life of Saint Isidore. As soon as he was able, he began working the fields, and was employed by the same wealthy landowner all his life. Before reporting for work each day, he went to holy Mass or prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. [The spiritual exercises of participating in or watching daily Mass and/or making regular visits to Christ’s Eucharistic Real Presence in the Tabernacle are revered traditions we should all adopt.] Even as he went about the mundane duties of a farmer, he prayed, lifting his mind and heart to God as he plowed and sowed, reaped and cleared, fed and tended the flocks. [Whatever our ‘job’ is, we can also raise our minds and hearts to God at all times.]
Saint Isidore also cared for Christ, truly present in the poor and needy, by bringing them home for a meager meal. His wife, Maria, always kept a ‘bottomless’ pot of stew on the stove which never ran out. She is also a canonized Saint; her Feast Day is September 9; she is also honored on her husband’s Feast Day: May 15. Their only child nearly died when he accidently fell into a well; they prayed, and the water rose until he could be lifted out. However, he died a few years later; Isidore and Maria accepted this most difficult cross with grace and in total trust of God’s will.
PIOUS LEGENDS. When coworkers complained he was late for work because he was at church [that is NOT legendary!], others defended him by noting that his duties never went undone. Some said Angels plowed for him [in art, he is seen, as above, with angelic helpers] and oxen worked the fields on their own, with no human driver. In 1211 he reportedly appeared to a Spanish King, alerting him to a secret passage which enabled the Crusaders to thwart the invading Muslim forces. In the 1600’s, Spain’s King Philip, who was near death, was miraculously cured through his intercession when the Saint’s remains were brought to him. Canonized in 1622, Saint Isidore is the Patron Saint of Farmers, Ecological Concerns, and Animals, as he insisted on their humane treatment and proper care. Saint Isidore the Farmer, pray for us!
With God’s love and my prayers,
Very Rev. Michael J. Kreder, VF, KCHS