The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18, 1380: Lidwina van Schiedam

Lidwina's fall on the Buttox. Wood drawing from the 1498 edition of John Brugman's Vita of Lidwina.

Today, many girls all over the world love to ice skate. In the Catholic church, the patron Saint of ice skaters is Lidwina van Schiedam from the Netherlands. Lidwina was born in the town of Schiedam, Holland on March 18, 1380. In 1395, At age 15, Lidwina fell while ice skating and broke a rib. According to her biographers, she never recovered from this accident. She grew progressively worse, and she was disabled for the rest of her life. Some modern scholars believe that Lidwina is one of the first known multiple sclerosis patients.

After her fall, Lidwina constantly fasted and gained a reputation as a mystic and a holy woman. The town officials of her hometown issued an official public document that asserted her complete lack of food and sleep. According to this same document Lidwina began shed skin, bones, parts of her intestines, which gave off a sweet odor. Her parents kept these in a vase. Lidwina died on April 14, 1434, at age 53.

Lidwina's grave in Schiedam immediately became a place of pilgrimage. The same year she died a chapel was built over her grave. Her relics were taken to Belgium in 1615 and remained there until they were returned to her hometown of Schiedam in 1871. Lidwina was officially canonized by Pope Leo XIII on March 18, 1890. She is the patron saint of ice skaters and the chronically ill, as well as of the town of Schiedam.

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