PHOTOS: Madrid launches holy year in honor of St Isidore the Farmer

Courtney Mares   By Courtney Mares for CNA


Opening Mass for Archdiocese of Madrid’s Holy Year of St. Isidore on May 15, 2022. / Archdiocese of Madrid/Ignacio Arregui. See CNA article for full slideshow. 

Madrid, Spain, May 19, 2022 / 11:15 am (CNA).

Madrid has kicked off a holy year in honor of the 400th anniversary of the canonization of its patron saint, St. Isidore the Farmer.

During the jubilee year, which will last until May 15, 2023, pilgrims can receive a plenary indulgence by praying at the tomb of the 12th-century saint in the Spanish capital.

Cardinal Carlos Osoro Sierra, the archbishop of Madrid, launched the holy year with a Mass at the saint’s tomb on May 15.

“I thank Pope Francis for having granted us this year of grace for Madrid,” he wrote in his letter announcing the jubilee.

“I am sure that it will bring us many blessings and at the same time have effects on all continents, since we have a universal saint, with chapels, shrines, and fraternities all over the world.”

St. Isidore is buried together with his wife, Blessed Maria de la Cabeza, in the Collegiate Church of San Isidro in central Madrid.

Spaniards celebrated the feast of the patron saint of Madrid during a three-day holiday weekend in the capital city with a procession, music, and dancing in the Plaza Mayor.

Many dressed up in Madrid’s traditional clothing, known as “traje de chulapo(a)” in Spanish, which includes wearing a red carnation.

The Archdiocese of Madrid has many plans for the jubilee and has set up a resource webpage to keep pilgrims informed of special events being held in the saint’s honor throughout the year.

On May 21, St. Isidore’s tomb will be opened and his body exposed for veneration until May 29. There will also be processions with his body through the streets of Madrid on May 27 and May 28.

St. Isidore was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622, together with St. Francis Xavier, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Philip Neri, and St. Teresa of Avila.

Originally the canonization had been planned for St. Isidore alone, until the Vatican decided to add in the other four blesseds.

Isidore was a poor, humble farmer born in Madrid around 1070. Together with his wife, he pursued holiness through prayer, laboring in the fields, and sharing his possessions with the poor.

Despite the demands of working as a peasant farmer, Isidore prioritized prayer and daily Mass.

Today he is the patron saint of laborers and farmers, in addition to Madrid. Because of his canonization in the 17th century, devotion to St. Isidore quickly spread to many of Spain’s colonies in Latin America.

In his homily for the opening Mass for the holy year, Osoro described St. Isidore as “a husband and father … who knew how to imbue dignity in human work and who knew how to contemplate the face of the Lord.”

According to a decree from the Apostolic Penitentiary, pilgrims can obtain a plenary indulgence only during the holy year by praying at the tomb of St. Isidore in Madrid under the usual conditions of making a sacramental confession, receiving Holy Communion, and praying for the intentions of the pope.

The elderly and the sick who are unable to leave their homes can also obtain the indulgence by uniting themselves spiritually to the jubilee celebration, praying before a sacred image, and offering up their sufferings to God.

The Vatican has also granted the parish Church of St. Isidore the Farmer in Mexico City’s Reforma neighborhood the opportunity for pilgrims to obtain a plenary indulgence during the holy year until May 2023, according to ACI Prensa.

Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop emeritus of Mexico, opened a Holy Door at the parish on May 15.

“We hope for a renewal of faith and a conversion to the Lord, in the practice of a simple and daily life as St. Isidore teaches us to live faith and Christian charity,” Father Hugo Valdemar, the parish priest said.

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