St. Isidore the Farmer, Pray For Us!

The feast day of St. Isidore the Farmer (1070-1130) is May 15.

Anonymous, “St. Isidore the Farmer,” 18th century
Anonymous, “St. Isidore the Farmer,” 18th century (photo: Public Domain)

Isidore was born into a peasant family in Madrid, Spain. Although his family was poor, they were rich in the love of God and taught him to dedicate himself to God’s service. The boy was named for Spanish archbishop and theologian St. Isidore of Seville (who died in 636). Throughout his 59-year life, Isidore would be known for his devotion to God, his family and the land.

When he was quite young, Isidore went to work as a day laborer on the estate of John de Vergas, a wealthy landowner from the town of Torrelaguanna, and work there the rest of his life. Isidore began each day by attending Mass before going to the work in the fields, arriving at work after his fellow laborers. Legend has it that they thought Isidore was slacking off, but when John came to investigate, he found two angels plowing the fields in Isidore’s place so Isidore could have more time for prayer. 

Isidore was married to Maria Torribia, who would herself one day be beatified and be known as Santa María de la Cabeza (St. Mary of the Head; so called because her head was a relic venerated for centuries). The couple had one son, who died in infancy.

Despite his own poverty, Isidore was generous with the poor, often bringing them home for a plate of stew to fill their empty stomachs and praying with them. He was also known for his kindness toward animals. Miracles are said to have occurred through Isidore’s intercession, such as when his prayer brought back to life his master’s daughter.

Isidore was canonized by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622 (along with four other well-known saints, Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Ávila and Philip Neri). As the story of the lives of Isidore and María became known in Spain, farmers began to invoke their intercession for bountiful harvests. He is the patron of farmers, rural communities and Madrid. 

It is also said that St. Isidore’s intercession has helped Spain’s kings. In 1211, he is said to have appeared to the King of Castile to offer him help with defeating an enemy. In the 1600s, when King Philip III of Spain was seriously ill, Isidore’s incorrupt remains were brought to the king’s room and the king recovered.

St. Isidore is a model of how work and prayer can be combined; Isidore sanctified his work and was a positive influence on those around him. He and wife Maria are also models of commitment to family, love for the land, service to the poor and a deep spirituality.

In Advent, we await the coming of Jesus at Christmastime.

What Is Advent Anyway?

EXPLAINER: Advent is a season in the Church’s life intended to renew the experience of waiting and longing for the Messiah.