Monday, May 12, 2014

San Isidro Labrador (Saint Isidore the Farmer)

Luis Salvador Carmona (1708 – 1767)
San Isidro Labrador (Saint Isidore the Farmer)
1753 - 1761
Marble sculpture
88 cm x 124 cm x 19 cm - 255,6 kg
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

San Isidro Labrador (Saint Isidore the Farmer)  (c. 1070 – 15 May 1130) is not as venerated as he should be in Western Europe as he is in Spain and the former Spanish Empire

We are probably more used to the great Doctor, Saint Isidore of Seville

However unlike the great Doctor, San Isidro Labrador was probably illiterate

We do not give agriculture and the people who work on the land the honour and respect they deserve

Nowadays we do not get food from the land. We get it from Tesco, Marks and Spencer and the other huge retail conglomerates which dominte our town and cityscapes

We do not have any idea how food is produced and how much effort now and in the past was expended in producing what we need to survive on a daily basis

Poor and a day labourer San Isidro is the patron saint of farmers and day labourers and of Madrid and many other countless villages, towns and cities in Iberia and Spanish speaking lands

His importance in the 17th century is shown by the fact that when Gregory XV canonised him he was one of the five saints canonised that day. He was canonised along with  Saints Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, and Philip Neri

His life is a reminder of the dignity of work and how sanctity can arise in ordinary everyday life as well as the importance of family life as well as sexual abstinence within marriage

The huge and heavy marble relief by the late Baroque sculptor, Carmona, brings out these points of the life of San Isidro

San Isidro stands with spade in the act of mystical ecstasy. On his right his wife, Santa María de la Cabeza brings an ear of corn 

On the left  the knight Juan de Vargas who was the saint`s master or employer kneels to greet the saint, his horse follows with his servant holding  the bridle. 

At the bottom, left and right, we see  buildings in Madrid which is where the saint and his wife came from and lived and died

He worked the fields around  Torrelaguna outside Madrid where his wife came from

The relief was one of 32 meant for the decoration of the Royal Palace in Madrid

The sculptor Carmona mainly carried out religious works and had helped his master Juan Alonso sculpt the theme of San Isidore and his wife before most notably for the Bridge of Toledo in Madrid

Saint John XXIII venerated him and proclaimed him Patron Saint of Spanish Farm Labourers in 1960

he perhaps alone of the modern Popes  (apart from Saint Pius X) would have felt some empathy towards this saint