St Isidore the Farmer

St. Isidore the Farmer rose early in the morning to go to church.
All day long as he walked behind the plough, he communed with God.

Feast Day May 15th
"ISIDORE was born in Madrid, Spain, in the twelfth century. He was a farmer on the land of a wealthy nobleman of Madrid.  He never missed daily Mass. The neighbors accused him, to his employer, of neglecting his work in order to hear Mass, but Isidore replied, "I know, Sir, that I am your servant, but I have another Master as well, to whom I owe service and obedience."
The employer went to the farm one morning very early. When he found out that Isidore did not begin his work until a later hour, he went toward him to scold him. But he was surprised to find two strangers, each with a team of white oxen, ploughing, one on each side of Isidore. When he approached them, they disappeared. He said to Isidore, "Tell me, who are these two men who were ploughing with you just now?" Isidore said, "I have not seen any person. I ask no help from anyone but God each morning at Holy Mass." The nobleman understood that the two men he had seen were angels sent by God to help His servant, in return for his hearing Mass faithfully."

In March 1622 five great saints were canonised together. They included four of the giant figures of the Catholic Reformation: St. Ignatius, St. Francis Xavier, St. Teresa and St. Philip Neri. The fifth, St Isidore, stood apart. He founded no order, he accomplished no great deeds (apart from tilling the land); he neither left any teaching, nor inspired ant disciples. He was, in fact a simple farm worker, born in Madrid, who spent his entire working life in the service of the same wealthy landowner.

With his good wife, Maria he bore one son, who died in childhood. He knew the hardships, the toils and the sorrows of all farm workers then and since. And he displayed the simple though profound faith so common to campesinos the world over. He attended Mass daily and prayed continuously as he worked in the fields.

In Isidore's case however, his faith was attended by visible signs and wonders. It was reported, for example, that angels were seen assisting him as he ploughed, He was famous for his generosity toward those even poorer than himself. His table was always open to the indignant, while he was content to live on the scraps left over. His kindness extended to animals. One winter day he was so moved by the sorrowful noise of some hungry birds that he opened the sack of corn he was carrying and poured out half of it's contents. Though witnesses scoffed at this prodigality, later, at the mill. the bag was found miraculously to be full.

Other similar stories are told of this holy peasant, who died on May 15 1130. Yet for all the miraculous legends, what most stands out is the very ordinariness of his life. He is simply one of the " little ones" so beloved by God. Though not a monk he passed his life in "work and prayer."

Though poor himself he poured himself out in charity. Though happily married he communed with angels.

In the list of canonised saints his type is surprisingly rare; in heaven, presumably, less so.

From All Saints, Daily Reflections on Saint, Prophets, and Witnesses For Our Time (Robert Ellsberg)

Saint Isidore the Farmer

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