St. Isidore the Farmer (1070-1130) is considered the patron saint of farmers and rural communities. (He is not to be confused with another Spanish saint, St. Isidore of Seville [April 4]. Isidore was born in Madrid; as a young boy, he went to work on the estate of John de Vergas, a wealthy landowner from the nearby town of Torrelaguanna.
Isidore labored on John’s farm for the remainder of his life. He was a model worker, a simple and caring person, and a very devout Christian. Every day he rose early in the morning to attend Mass at a nearby church, sometimes, according to fellow workers, showing up late for work because he spent too much time in prayer.
Isidore married Maria de la Cabeza, a simple and devout woman who herself became a canonized saint. The couple had one child, who died at an early age. They were both known for their piety and concern for the poor; legends exist about Isidore miraculously supplying them with food on occasion, and the saint had a great concern that animals be treated properly. Isidore would pray while plowing in the fields, and it’s even said that angels would sometimes help him with his work.
St. Isidore the Farmer died in 1130. Along with Saints Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, and Philip Neri, he is known in Spain as one of the “Five Saints.”
1. Many Americans have a desire to build a successful career, changing jobs when better opportunities arise and perhaps even starting their own businesses and becoming their own bosses. God’s grace can be experienced in such a lifestyle, but this measure of success is not required for holiness. St. Isidore worked for the same landowner for over fifty years; he had no need to become independent, for he realized that he was ultimately working for Christ.
2. Work and prayer can be and are meant to be combined. This might mean, if circumstances allow, arranging our schedule so as to attend daily Mass before or after work; it also quite frequently means praying or meditating while working (especially in the case of manual labor). St. Isidore worshipped God in both these manners, thereby sanctifying his work and influencing those around him.