Childhood Lessons from Saint Isidore the Farmer…Sort Of

The life of this simple laborer has much to teach us, but only if we’re paying attention.

Scenic View Farm

The dairy barn at Scenic View Farm, where I grew up. No, I didn’t literally live in the barn.

I grew up on a century-old, third-generation dairy farm in rural southeastern Wisconsin, practically in the shadow of Holy Hill, a minor basilica and national shrine. Our small rural church, St. Peter’s, was a congregation composed mostly of decent, hard-working farmers of German ancestry. Accordingly, you might imagine that we had a rather strong devotion to today’s Saint of the Day, St. Isidore the Farmer:

  • During our many long work days, we were inspired by the deep piety of this simple laborer;
  • His example taught us the dignity of physical labor and the happiness and holiness of simplicity of life;
  • As we herded, fed, and milked the cows, we were motivated by his concern for the proper treatment of animals;
  • In our parents, we saw the dual saint-making institution of marriage lived out according to the example of St. Isidore and his wife Maria, who was beatified herself;
  • In my grandparents’ loss of my uncle during his school years, we identified with the death of Isidore and Maria’s son and their corresponding suffering;
  • Finally, as a layman, St. Isidore inspired us connect our faith to our work, understanding that the work of bringing about the Kingdom is found in the faithful day-to-day work of living.

Oh wait, I forgot. I didn’t grow up Catholic, so none of that is true.

Our church was a congregational Protestant church. I didn’t even know why St. Peter was the patron of our congregation, who he was, or what it meant to be a saint at all. Never once thought about any of that stuff. As such, Isidore-whoever? wasn’t even on the radar screen. Without the saints, we had little tangible connection between our daily lives and our Sunday worship.

Catholics, teach your children about the saints! Look what they may be missing if you don’t.

What lessons from the saints did you learn from your parents or want to pass along to your children? How do we foster greater devotion to the saints in our families?

Image source

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  1. says

    I grew up Catholic on a farm and St. Isadore still wasn’t on my radar, so don’t feel too bad. However, my sister named her first daughter Isadora. Maybe we should take a saint a week this summer….

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