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Saint Lidwina

Saint Lidwina was the daughter of a laborer in Schiedam, Holland (Then part of the Holy Roman Empire) and was one of nine children. Her birthday was on April 18th, 1380. At the young age of only 15, Saint Lidwina fell while ice skating and believed her injuries to only be a broken rib initially. Unfortunately she was never able to heal this broken rib and she began to grow progressively worse physically. Starting after this fall she began to experience great difficulty walking, followed by headaches and violent pain in her teeth. Only a few years later, at 19 years old, Saint Lidwina's legs were both paralyzed and her vision began to become greatly worsened.

Rather than falling into a period of self pity or depression, Saint Lidwina began to seriously fast and spend enormous amounts of time in prayer. A surviving document from officials in the town of Schiedam contains eyewitness testimony of Saint Lidwina's extremely small quantities of food and sleep. There were claims of suspicion early on with some of the towns people believing she may have been under demonic influence but her pastor, Father Andries proved them wrong - he brought an unconsecrated host as a test and Saint Lidwina was able to determine that it was unconsecrated almost immediately upon seeing it.

Several miracles occurred at her bedside and Saint Lidwina soon began to experience miraculous visions while being bedridden from the physical pain she was experiencing. Wermbold of Rosoop (a celebrated preacher of the time) came and visited her, as did the very pious Arnold of Schoonohoven. Hendrik Mande, a Dutch mystical writer and member of the Augustinian Canon Brethren of the Common Life, wrote for her consolation.

Later in life she beheld a miraculous vision in which she witnessed a rose-bush with the words

"When this shall be in bloom, your suffering will be at an end."

In Spring of 1433, she suddenly exclaimed to everyone around her that she could see the rose-bush in full bloom. On the morning of Easter, 1433, she had a vision of Christ coming to her and administrating the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. She died the very same morning at home in her bed with witnesses testifying that they all experienced an odor of great sanctity. Her grave became a famous location for pilgrimage almost immediately and a small chapel was built over the grave a year later in 1434. In 1615 her relics were moved to Brussels for time and were returned to her home town in 1871.

Inside the Basilica Lidwina

Pope Leo XIII formally canonized Saint Lidwina on march 14th, 1890 with her feast day set for April 14th. Saint Lidwina is considered the patron saint of the chronically ill, ice skaters, and the town of Schiedam.

Modern historians believe a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis likely as the root cause of Saint Lidwina's illness though it is impossible to determine with certainty.

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