Feast Day of St. Isidore the Farmer, May 15
Honoring the life and virtues of St. Isidore
Several rural parishes throughout the country honor the life and virtues of St. Isidore the Farmer on or near May 15th, his feast day. For those who may not know this humble saint, here’s a brief look at his life followed by some of the qualities that have endeared him to farmers and work hands over the centuries, even to this day.
St. Isidore was born about the year 1100 in Madrid, Spain, then only a small town. His parents were poor and could not provide educational advantages to their son. At an early age, he was hired out for farm work. Isidore came to have a deep love for the soil; he found favor with God through his devotion to the land, even if that land belonged to others.
St. Isidore died at the age of 60. It is said his rugged constitution allowed him to still plow the soil until shortly before his death. His devoted wife Maria was by his side at the end, consoling him with her presence and prayers.
It took five centuries, but in 1622 Isidore was solemnly canonized by Pope Paul V. It is truly amazing that this simple man was formally recognized as a saint on the same day with four distinguished persons of the Church: St. Ignatius, St. Francis Xavier, St. Teresa of Avila and St. Philip Neri. They were well known during their lifetimes; Isidore was little known, but great in his littleness. He came to be respected after his death for his humble submission as a farm worker, fully devoted to God’s will.
Three qualities in the life of St. Isidore can be singled out as of particular value for farmers and working hands.
1. Trust in God in good times and bad.
Like all farmers, Isidore knew what it was to have his hopes and fears rest on the hazards of rain and drought and storms. Yet in good seasons and in bad, for lean or plentiful crops, he thanked God and trusted Him. Isidore fully realized that material things are transient in their very nature; whether someone is poor or rich in the end is unimportant. The important thing is to have within their soul at all times the infinite wealth of God’s grace.
2. Enthusiasm and vigor in doing a good job.
Biographers of St. Isidore all agreed that he loved to work on the soil; he was always conscientious in discharging his agricultural duties at the proper season. This was made evident by the fact that his employer successively increased the amount of land under his care; Isidore was commended for his hard work and for the crops he was able to produce.
3. A spirit of prayer and devotion to religious practice.
Even as he diligently carried out his duties on the farm, Isidore saw to it that his prayer life was not neglected. He felt it would be a great insult to God to use the very gifts of creation – the soil and the seed and the ability to work – as an excuse for neglecting one’s duty to worship the Creator. According to biographers, St. Isidore attended Mass every morning and made regular pilgrimages to nearby churches. He and his wife were faithful members of parish organizations, giving much time and effort to their cause.
With good reason, Isidore is regarded as the patron saint of farmers the world over. Needless to say, farmers and workers in the United States acknowledge him as their patron saint, and he is the particular patron of Catholic Rural Life.
Let us Pray: Grant, O Lord, that through the intercession of Blessed Isidore, the husbandman, we may follow his example of patience and humility, and so walk faithfully in his footsteps. In the evening of life, pray that we may be able to present to You an abundant harvest of merit and good works. Have mercy on us, O Lord, Who lives and reigns world without end. Amen.