Saint Isidore, patron of farmers and Madrid
St. Isidore was born in about 1070 to a poor, but devout family. At a very young age, he hired himself out as a farmer to a wealthy Madrilenian landowner named Juan de Vargas. He was very devoted to his work, the poor and animals. It is said that Isidore stood about two meters or 6.5 ft tall. Like his parents, Isidore had a very deep and rich faith. He frequently attended mass and would even be late for work because he would get caught up in the splendor of Spain's beautiful churches. Eventually, he took a wife, Maria Torribia, who herself became a saint. Maria and Isidore had one son together.
Most of St. Isidore's story is surrounded on the multitude of miracles that are attributed to him. A total of 438 miracles have been connected to Isidore, with many of them occurring during his lifetime. Several of the more well known miracles describe his interaction with angels. Ever so often, the other hired labor would complain to Juan de Vargas about Isidore because he would spend more time in prayer than on his work. On several occasions when Juan de Vargas would go to investigate these claims, he found not just Isidore plowing, but also two angels on either side of him, totaling the work of three men!
Before Maria and Isidore's son died, he fell into the well on the property where they worked. The worried parents huddled together at the top of the well and began to pray. At once the water began to rise in the well and lifted their son up and into their arms. After this miracle, Sts. Isidore and Maria made vows if vows of sexual abstinence in thanksgiving for their son being saved.
Yet another miracle attributed to St. Isidore is that of feeding pigeons with wheat. It was a cold winter day and Isidore was on his way to the grinding mill with a sack of wheat. He passed a flock of woodpigeons that were scratching the hard ground, desperately trying to find food. Taking pity on the poor birds Isidore poured out half of his bag of wheat to feed the animals, despite the mocking of onlookers. However, upon entering the mill, his bag had miraculously refilled and even produced double the amount of flour that it normally would.
There are many more incredible miracles that Saint Isidore performed, including supposedly reviving the dead daughter of his landlord. But, more importantly (I believe), is what we can learn from these miracles.
Why is it that Isidore's work was blessed even though he was consistently late to start or would often stop to pray? It may seem rude to us when someone we work with is always tardy and we're left to pick up the slack. We don't, however, always know the reason behind their actions. In the case of St. Isidore, his fellow workers were upset because he wasn't running on their time. What they failed to realize is that he was running on God's time, which is obviously more important. When we understand whose time Isidore was complying with, the mass number of miracles he was able to perform and take part in begin to make sense. Because his life was committed firstly to God, in prayer and service, God in return blessed Isidore's work (the angels plowing the fields). This is what we need to take to heart; when we give all that we have to God before anything/anyone else, He showers His blessings on all other areas of our life. This can be summed up in Matthew 6:33 when Jesus says, “But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness,[s] and all these things will be given you besides.” So follow St. Isidore's example of “God first, work second,” and the Lord will bless the fruit of your work abundantly.
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…” — Colossians 3:23
He lives with his lovely wife and eleven kids in northern Colorado.