Thursday, April 14, 2016

St. Lidwina: Mystic, Stigmatic, Visionary, and Victim Soul

The saint of the day for April 14 is St. Lidwina, also known as Lydwina of Shiedam, a Dutch mystic. St. Lidwina is the patron of skaters and against sickness. In modern times, she is believed to be one of the first recorded cases of multiple sclerosis.

Saint Lidwina was born in 1380 in Schiedam, Holland to a poor family, the only daughter of nine children. Lidwina was devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary and prayed often before the miraculous image of Our Lady of Schiedam. At the age of 12, she consecrated her virginity to Christ.

In 1396, while ice skating, she fell and broke a rib. Although she was treated by physicians, her rib never healed and gangrene set in, followed by many complications. This injury caused her to be an invalid for the rest of her life. For seventeen years, she could not move any part of her body, with the exception of her head and left arm. She ate almost nothing and became blind during the last seven years of her life.  Some of the illnesses which affected Lidwina were:  headaches, vomiting, fever, thirst, bedsores, toothaches, and muscle spasms.

Lidwina heroically accepted her condition and spent her time praying, meditating, and uniting her pain to that of Christ’s on the Cross for the salvation of souls. She also developed a strong devotion to the Eucharist. Tradition tells us that she had the gift of inedia, and that her only food for her last 19 years was the Eucharist.

In addition to her close union with Christ and her selflessness, Lidwina also lived in voluntary poverty, giving away many of her material goods and donating the money to those less fortunate. After her mother’s death, she sold the furnishings she had inherited and gave the money to the poor. When her brother died, she paid his debts and helped support his orphaned children.

Lidwina was the recipient of supernatural gifts. She was given the gift of the stigmata, the wounds of Christ. She was also blessed with the gift of ecstatic visions, in which she was shown Heaven and Purgatory, participated in Christ’s Passion, and was visited by the saints.  In one of the visions, she saw a rosebush and an inscription that read: "When this shall be in bloom, your suffering will be at an end." In the spring of 1433, she said that she saw the rosebush of her vision. On Easter morning of that year, she had a vision of Jesus administering the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. She died on April 14th of that year. There were many miracles reported by those that visited her in her bedroom during her suffering. During her sickness, her body bore all the repulsive signs of suffering, but upon her death, was restored completely to its former splendor.

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