You May Not Know: St. Lidwina

This post is the first of a series of posts about the saints. While “Humdingers” are about some of the surprising things popular Saints have said and done, “You May Not Know” is about the lesser known Saints, and the unusual and sometimes comical things of which they are the patron.  

When I began my search for this month’s little-known saint, I was looking for one that would fit in with the wintery-feel of January. That’s when I came across Lidwina, the patron saint of ice-skaters.

“She’s perfect!” I thought, and scheduled her post into my planner.

Later, I got a chance to investigate her life further and her story was not as charming and cozy as I had originally hoped…

When she was about 15 years old, she fell while ice-skating with friends and broke her rib. This injury never healed, causing much pain, suffering and infections throughout her life. Lidwina always suffered graciously.

From the time she was a little girl, she had a deep devotion to Our Lady and would often spend entire nights in prayer at the little shrine in her Dutch town.  On one such evening, she is said to have had a divine revelation of the pain that would become one of the defining characteristics of her life. Thus, the skating accident, the permanent injury and the constant complications (including migraines, nausea, dehydration and eventually gangrene) came as no surprise to the teenager.

The infection spread throughout her body, causing certain body parts to fall off and blood to leak from her eyes, ears and nose. The towns people were so disgusted, they actually accused her of being possessed by the devil.

If this was me, I’m fairly certain I would pity myself, but Lidwina did not let her suffering keep her from God. In spite of her everything, the injury, the infections, people’s cruelty, Lidwina remained devout. She prayed almost constantly and continued experiencing visions, with a number of miracles being reported at her bedside. She also received the wounds of Christ, the stigmata, which seems to indicate that she willingly suffered as Christ did — “accept[ing] undignified suffering with dignity.”

I’m gonna be really honest, I am not a huge fan of this story. I do not like to suffer and I rarely suffer gracefully… even the thought of this happening makes me squirm with discomfort. Still, Lidwina’s story seemed appropriate for The Swap. She did not allow her weakness to keep her from greatness… rather, she accepted the grace that accompanied her suffering, and fully embraced it, becoming a Saint… all because of “swapping” for God’s grace.

St. Lidwina – pray for us who read this post!

Have you heard of St. Lidwina before? Do you have any suggestions for future “You May Not Know” posts? 

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