St. Isidore, the Farmer

St. Isidore was born in Madrid, Spain, in about the year 1070. His parents were pious Catholics but were very poor. Consequently, Isidore was sent to work for a wealthy landowner, John de Vargas. (whom he remained with for the rest of his life.)

He married a holy woman named Maria Torribia (also known as Maria de la Cabeza) who, like Isidore, became a saint. They had one son who died as a child. They believed their son’s death to be a sign from God and consequently vowed to live a life of perfect continence.

Isidore attended Holy Mass every morning which caused him to come to work late. Late, though he was, his plowing was nevertheless accomplished by angels that resulted in three times more productivity. His co-workers and his boss witnessed such miraculous events and showed him great respect. He often spent holidays on pilgrimage to local shrines.

Isidore was caring toward animals and generous to the poor. The miracle of the multiplication of food occurred when Isidore fed a flock of starving birds and at another time when Isidore shared his food with a large group of beggars.

Before going to work, St. Isidore stopped by the local church to attend Mass. Co-workers assumed it was why he was always late and they complained to their boss. But when the landowner went to confront San Isidro, he found the pious man deep in prayer – while an angel did the plowing for him! The boss has also seen two angels plowing alongside San Isidro, thus yielding the work of three people. 

Isidore died on May 15, 1130, at 60 years of age, and was canonized in 1622. His body has been found incorrupt. St. Isidore is known as the patron of Madrid, Spain as well as Leon, Saragosa, and Seville. He is also considered the patron of farmers, peasants, day laborers, and rural communities. 

In a largely agricultural country like the Philippines, Filipinos never fail to pay their respects to San Isidro Labrador whenever his feast day rolls around on May 15. Lucban, Quezon’s Pahiyas is a thanksgiving fiesta for a bountiful harvest held in honor of the saint. Pulilan, Bulacan’s Carabao Festival features a parade of carabaos that kneels in front of San Isidro Labrador Parish, in reverence to the patron saint on the eve of his feast day. 

In celebration of San Isidro’s feast day this May 15, we recall five of the most memorable miracles of a man who taught us, that “physical labor has dignity; sainthood does not stem from status; contemplation does not depend on learning; the simple life is conducive to holiness and happiness.”