APRIL 14. lidwina, who nursed a widow like christ ON THE NATIVITY
Patroness of ice skaters and the chronically ill
As a little girl, Lidwina passed whole nights praying to Our Lady at her town’s shrine. On such an evening, she had a divine revelation of the pain that would afflict her for all of her life.
HOW SHE SUFFERED FOR HE WHO SUFFERED FOR US
When Lidwina was 15 years old, she collapsed with violence atop jagged ice while skating and broke her rib. Gangrene appeared in the wound and spread outward. She also developed an inward bruise and an abscess in her womb. Her whole body became paralyzed except for her left hand, and blood poured from all of her orifices. She often vomited great quantities of purulent matter. Her vision was disrupted and she had forceful pains in her teeth. So torn was her person that her entire body was bandaged. According to one chronicler, “she was one sore from head to foot and greatly emaciated.” According to another, her body swelled with sickness, enabling soldiers to spread rumors that Lidwina carried a local priest’s baby. The fevers she suffered freed souls from purgatory. For this and other reasons, Lidwina embraced her suffering.
ODOR OF SANCTITY DRAWS MASSES
An authenticating Swedish document claims that Lidwina shed skin, bones, and segments of her intestines which her parents housed in a vase. The parts gave off a sweet smelling odor, until Lidwina asked her mother to bury them to ward off the stir they were causing.
REWARDED WITH STIGMATA
Known for her rigorous fasting, Lidwina ate only slivers of apple, single bites of a date, watered down wine, and salty, contaminated river water. Eventually, she ceased to swallow anything at all except for the Eucharist. Some suspected she was a sorceress, but when her priest tried to feed her an unconsecrated host, she detected at once that it was flawed and unholy. For months she craved communion. Eventually, Christ appeared to her in a dream--first as an infant, then as a bloodied youth--along with angels carrying the tools of the passion. Rays of light from Christ’s wounds pierced Lidwina with the stigmata. After he pained her so, Christ left behind a hovering bloody Eucharist as a sign of her holiness. Finally, she was permitted to partake of communion once more.
NURSING A WIDOW LIKE THE CHRIST CHILD
A widow who cared for her once foresaw Lidwina’s breasts filling with milk “like Mary’s on the night of the nativity.” Soon after in a vision, the Virgin and a host of other holy ladies encircled Lidwina’s bed, opening their tunics and lactating “into the sky.” The next time the widow came over, Lidwina rubbed at her breast, it filled up with milk, and she drank of it until she was satisfied. The widow didn’t eat regular food for days.
DEADLY VISIONS OF ROSES
For the final seven years of her life, Lidwina was completely blind, but she still had great visions. Once, a rose bush appeared to Lidwina, along with disembodied narration foretelling that her suffering would end when the plant was in bloom. One spring she exclaimed, “I see the bush is in bloom!” After 38 years of suffering, Lidwina died at age 53. Her symptoms have earned her a posthumous diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.