This humble farmer shows how to love God in frugal circumstances

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St. Isidore the Farmer

St. Isidore

Feast day: May 15

Sometimes there is a saint so excellent in his ordinariness that he is attractive by his mere simplicity of life and character. St. Isidore, a Spanish day laborer who was born in 1070 and died in 1130, is one such saint who stands out amongst many. Born of poor but devout parents, St. Isidore learned the importance of a life of prayer and growing in the virtues, even though his parents did not have the means to provide him with a formal education. St. Isidore spent his life instead as a tenant farmer working for a landowner.

And yet, this very humble man is exemplary even years later in demonstrating the joy of abandonment: falling in love with God and rejoicing in what God calls us to do, particularly when our circumstances cannot be changed and we are asked to carry an especially big cross.

In his poverty, St. Isidore lived a life of hard work and prayer as he plowed, planted and harvested. He was devoted to his boss, a wealthy landowner, but also to God, as St. Isidore found time to attend daily Mass each day before work began. Married to Bl. Maria Torribia, who is venerated in Spain as Santa Maria de la Cabeza, St. Isidore and his wife remained faithful to Christ after suffering one of the worst tragedies a human being can suffer — the loss of a child.

Together, St. Isidore and Blessed Maria remain models for couples by how they lived the spiritual work of mercy in bearing wrongs patiently and in overcoming the envy of their fellow servants through acts of kindness.

Always ready to obey his master, St. Isidore lived the virtue of self-mastery. By putting the concerns of others first, he looked for ways to help the poor on his own salary even though he was poor himself. His wife Maria always kept a pot of stew on the fireplace in their home as she knew that St. Isidore would often bring home the hungry. This pot is reported to have always had enough food to feed all who were present.

Disengaged from the world and living with full confidence in God, the couple lived so as to sanctify their souls in preparation for eternal life with God. St. Isidore performed his work in a spirit of penance and duty towards God, who he prayed to while he worked. He also prayed consistently to his guardian angel for assistance and found that angels helped him regularly.

Once his master saw an angel plowing on each side of St. Isidore, so that Isidore’s work was equal to that of three of his fellow laborers. St. Isidore loved all of God’s creatures and once saw that, after feeding the birds, his sack was mysteriously refilled with grain, which produced a double amount of flour when ground.


Dear Jesus, thank you for St. Isidore, who shows me that all of us can reach Heaven through the most mundane work. Help me to make the most of every opportunity, no matter how small, and to never forget that everything begins and ends with your love.


Lord God, to whom belongs all creation,
and who call us to serve you
by caring for the gifts that surround us,
inspire us by the example of Saint Isidore
to share our food with the hungry
and to work for the salvation of all people.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.

Maryella Hierholzer

Maryella Hierholzer is a parishioner at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and did graduate work at Georgetown University. After concluding a career in the Washington area, she is now retired in Indiana where she is a teacher of adult and youth faith formation at her parish. She is also a volunteer at Catholic Charities in Fort Wayne.