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San Isidro y Santa Maria y Niño : San Isidro’s Feast day is May 15
by John D. Dadosky
This image actually recounts two saints. San
Isidro (1070–1130) is especially popular
within the Spanish-speaking Catholic communities
in New Mexico. In Spain, his wife Santa Maria (feast day 9 September)
della Cabeza (d. 1175) is often prayed to in times
San Isidro, also known as San Isidro the farmer or
laborer, was born in Madrid in 1070. As a young
man he took employment working on a farm and
labored there for the rest of his life. He married
Maria Torribia, who also became a saint along
with him. She is also known as Santa Maria della
Cabeza, or St. Maria of the head, because the
relic of her head was often used in processions
and for veneration and intercession.
Both saints lived their lives as peasants.
They had only one child, who died in his youth.
They are unique in that they are one of the few
examples of married saints. They also serve as
patron saints to parents who have lost children,
and they serve as patron saints of marriage. In
order to emphasize these two aspects of their
lives, Bill places the family together in this icon.
The husband embraces his family, expressing
admiration and devotion. The mother gazes
affectionately on the boy. The hand gestures of
each figure serve to unite the three figures in the
image, thus opening up the opportunity for the
viewer to begin to resonate with the loss the parents
must have felt when their boy died. There is a
particular depth to grief when a parent outlives a
child. It seems to go against nature. The hole that
the lost child left in their lives became a point for
their mutual compassion and saintliness toward
each other and toward others.
From: IMAGE to INSIGHT
The Art of William Hart McNichols
John D. Dadosky