St. Lidwina, Called Lydwid, Virgin
SHE was born at Schiedham, or Squidam, in Holland, near the mouth of the Meuse, in 1380. From seven years of age, she conceived an extraordinary devotion to the Blessed Virgin; and, when she was sent abroad by her mother on an errand, would go to the church to salute the Mother of God, by a Hail Mary, before her image there. At twelve years of age she made a vow of virginity. At fifteen, amusing herself with skating with her companions, according to the custom of that country, she fell on rough broken pieces of ice, and broke a rib. From this hurt, accompanied with an inward bruise, and from a great imposthume, which was formed in the womb, she suffered extremely, taking very little nourishment, and struggling night and day under great pains. An ulcer also consumed her lungs, and she sometimes vomited up great quantities of purulent matter. She had also three exterior ulcers, besides a complication of other distempers from the inward bruises, which brought on a dropsy, under which she laboured nineteen years; for the last seven years, she was not able to stir herself in bed nor even to move any part of her body, except her head and left arm. When moved by others, she was bound with cloths to keep the parts of her body together, so much was it worn and emaciated. She lived a considerable time almost without either nourishment or sleep, and had many sores on her face, legs, and other parts, like scorbutic inflammations and ulcers. For the thirty last years of her life, she never quitted her bed. The three or four first years of her sickness she was obliged to use violence, and to make continual efforts to maintain her soul constantly in the perfect sentiments of patience and resignation. After this term, by the advice of her confessarius, the devout John Pot, she employed herself continually in meditating on our Saviour’s sacred passion, which she divided into seven parts, to correspond to the seven canonical hours of prayer; in which she occupied herself day and night. By this practice and meditation, she soon found all her bitterness and affliction converted into sweetness and consolation, and her soul so much changed, that she prayed God would rather increase her pains, together with her patience, than suffer them to abate. She was even ingenious, by private mortifications, to add to her sufferings, in which she found a hidden manna. She lay on a poor straw bed, like a true sister of the suffering Lazarus, yet would strive to make it more uneasy to her under her other pains. Whatever was given her in alms, above the little which served for her own support, she distributed among the poor, not suffering any of her family, though indigent, to partake of it. After the death of her pious parents, she gave to the poor all the goods they bequeathed to her. Before she had, by constantly meditating on our Lord’s passion, by assiduous prayer and self-denial, acquired a love and relish of the cross, patience was more difficult to her, and less perfect: but when filled with the Spirit of Christ, she found a comfort in her pains, and it appeared how God had, in his tender mercy, visited her only to purify her heart to himself, and to fill it with his graces. She spoke of God with such unction, that her words softened and converted hardened sinners. Her patience was recompensed a hundred fold in this world by the extraordinary spiritual consolations with which she was often favoured, and by the grace of the Holy Ghost, accompanied with a wonderful gift of miracles, and many divine revelations. She sometimes had trials of spiritual dryness, but these served only more perfectly to purify her soul, and prepare her for sweeter visits of her heavenly Comforter. The holy sacrament of the eucharist was, above all other means, her principal strength, comfort, and happiness on earth; it renewed in her breast the burning flame of divine love, and nourished in her a continual source of tears and compunction. Her humility made her desire nothing so much as obscurity, and to be unknown and contemned by all men. After a severe martyrdom of thirty-eight years, in painful sickness, she was called to a crown of glory on Easter-Tuesday, the 14th of April, 1433, being fifty-three years old. God honoured her by miracles, to some of which Thomas à Kempis was an eye-witness. The chapel in which her body lay, in a marble tomb, in the parish church of Schiedham, begun to bear her name in 1434; and her father’s house, in which she died, was, after her death, converted into a monastery of Grey Sisters, of the third order of St. Francis. The Calvinists demolished the above-mentioned chapel; but changed the monastery into an hospital for orphans. Her relics soon after were conveyed to Brussels, and enshrined in the collegiate church of St. Gudula. The infanta Isabella procured a partition of them to be made, and placed one moiety in the church of the Carmelite nuns, of which she was the foundress. She was never beatified; but a mass on the Blessed Trinity was sung in her chapel at Schiedham on her festival, with a panegyric on the holy virgin. See her life compiled by John Gerlac, her cousin, and John Walter, her confessor; and by John Brugman, provincial of the Franciscans, who were all personally acquainted with her. Also from her life abridged by Thomas à Kempis. See Papebroke the Bollandist, 14th April, t. 2, p. 287; Molanus, &c.
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume IV: April.
The Lives of the Saints. 1866. April 14.