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The Five Saints

Today is the feast of Isidore the Farmer (1070-1130), who has a very special connection with our St Teresa. He was a farm labourer and a married man - his wife , Maria (Toribia) de la Cabeza, was beatified in 1697. Isidore used to rise early in the morning to go to church, and during his holidays he used to visit the churches of Madrid and surrounding areas. He also prayed all day long as he walked behind the plough - which suggests that he is a particularly fine example to be followed by Secular Carmelites. He died on this day in 1130, and was declared a saint in 1622 in wonderful company - with Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Philip Neri - and Teresa of Avila. Together, the group is known in Spain as The Five Saints. He is now a patron saint of farmers and rural communities and patron of Madrid. After Isidore's death, Maria became a hermit and a miracle worker; the name 'de la Cabeza' means 'of the head', and it was given to her after her death because the relic of her head (conserved in a reliquary and carried in procession) was associated with relief from drought. After being moved several times, her relics were eventually gathered in 1769 at the Real Colegiata de San Isidro in Madrid where they remain for public veneration.

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