St. Isidore the Farmer

saint-isidore-the-farmer-02Patron of farmers and rural communities, and of the United States National Rural Life Conference.  Born and died in Madrid (1070-1130).  Canonized 1622.

As a child Isidore entered the service of John de Vergas, a wealthy landowner from Madrid.  There he worked faithfully on Vergas’ farm for the rest of his life. He married a young woman as simple and upright as himself who also became a saint—Maria de la Cabeza. They had one son, who died before reaching adulthood.

Isidore was instinctively religious. He rose early in the morning for daily mass and spent much of his leisure time visiting the churches of Madrid and surrounding areas. All day long, as he plowed the fields, he prayed. His devotion became a problem from the standpoint of a few of his fellow workers, who complained that he would show up late after lingering in church.

He was known for his love of the poor and underprivileged.  Some accounts indicate that Isidore supplied poor people miraculously with food. He had a great concern also for kindness to animals.

St. Isidore was declared a saint in 1622 simultaneously with Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, and Philip Neri. Together, the group is known in Spain as “the five saints” – four who did mighty works for the Gospel and one simple soul who loved the Lord mightily and gave his life wholly to Jesus and Mary.

The first shall be last, and the last first. (Matthew 20:16)