The Real Story of Madrid’s Patron Saint, San Isidro

In the spirit of this week’s San Isidro festivities, I thought I’d go ahead and repost this goofy post I wrote last year…

Summer, Sun, and Saints!!

May has to be the best month in Spain, especially in Madrid. Everything blooms in May, event-wise, that is, and if you’re here in town for this weekend’s puente, you’ll notice a bouncy, festive vibe to the city as it celebrates the opening of bullfighting season, the anniversary of 15M, and most importantly, San Isidro!

Saint Isidor, the Farmer
San Isidro Labrador

Yes, the true reason for the season is Madrid’s patron saint, San Isidro. And if you don’t know the story of San Isidro (Isidore the Farmer), well it’s pretty interesting.

Isidore was born in 1070 and was a poor laborer most of his life. For years, he worked on the farm of a wealthy Madrileño landowner, Juan de Varga. However, poor Isidore was a pious man and would often spend his time at Mass before and after work.

Well, Isidore began to attract the ire of his coworkers who were more than a little irked over his tardiness due to his massive praying habit. (Some would probably say addiction, but let’s not surmise here shall we?) So, they brainstormed together and decided to complain to Sr. Jefe who went to investigate for himself this potential lack of productivity on his land. Perhaps he even called Human Resources to check on how best to resolve this matter without infringing upon his employee’s religious rights, but this we will never know.

Anyway, due to the complaints from his more heathen employees, the boss went to talk to Isidore about his working performance, or lack thereof. Expecting to see him ploughing along the fields, Sr. Jefe was caught by surprise as he saw an angel doing Isidore’s work while Sr. Holy was at the old pulpit. “Typical Spanish”, he thought as he shook his head in frustration.

The second time the boss went to talk to Señor Religioso, he was relieved to see Isidore ploughing away like a good laborer. But upon closer inspection, he also saw two angels on either side of him doing enough ploughing for three men.

Well, while one must assume that the boss man took into consideration this new form of productivity, he still had to take scalable action, so he laid off Isidore and sent him packing, straight to the unemployment office at Carabanchel where he was met with uncaring and, even more so, impious men who looked at him as if he were just another drain on society. Heathens!

Sr. Bossman then proceeded to hire only angels to do the ploughing, calling them interns and paying them half the wage so that the bossman could give his managers huge bonuses of massive amounts of pesetas so they could all invest massively in the ploughing start-ups that were popping up all over the place at that time.

But what about our Paro-ed Patron Saint, you ask?

Well, Isidore did his best to get through his downtime. He went back to school to get his Master’s in ploughing, but it was a rough market out there and he was just not “hireable”. His resume failed to garner any hits on Infojobs, so he decided to build up his “more marketable” skill set : religious dedication.

And then a good thing happened that would change his life forever. (No, the ploughing industry was not bailed out, silly.) Señor Isidore, found the true love of his life, Maria Torribia, who would come to be known as San Maria de la Cabeza later in life. (One family, two saints, ya’ll!)

Together Isidore and Maria had a son, who was seemingly as unfortunate as his father for he ended up falling in dark, damp well one day. Well, things were looking pretty dicey for Isidore Jr, until his father’s pious dedication did something we hardly ever see: it paid off, in buckets.

Papa Isidore began to pray for his son while he was desperately flapping around like a loco and wouldn’t you know that the water began to rise, lifting the clumsy son up and up until he safely made it to the top of the well when he father proclaimed loudly, “Hijo de mi vida! Pero que coño haces, tonto? Joder!”

Dancing Chulapos

While most people would celebrate this joyous occasion, Mama and Papa Isidore decided the best way to avoid another event like this one was to become celibate from sexual activity and they lived in separate houses for the rest of their lives. Weird.

Saint Isidore died on May 15, 1130. It’s said that King Philip III was cured of a deadly disease by touching the relics of the saint. So if you see anyone dressed in the traditional clothing of San Isidro, Chulapos, tradition dictates that you are supposed to chase after them and touch them in order to stave off serious sickness and unemployment.

So, if you want to be safe from scary, scary things like the plague and el paro, go ahead and run after any Chulapos or Chulapas you see this week and start rubbing them – don’t worry, they’ll be expecting it and you’ll be doing your part to honor this sacred saint.

This entry was posted in EVENTS IN MADRID, LIFE IN MADRID and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Real Story of Madrid’s Patron Saint, San Isidro

  1. Hamatha,

    I love your writing style. It’s pretty funny. Senior Religiouso, Sr. Jefe, etc. It’s nice to see you so involved with the culture of Spain, loving it there and having a healthy dose of humor at the same time.

    I am going to try again and follow you so I know when you post new material.


  2. Shana says:

    This is the best explanation of San Isidro I have ever read. I love it! Typical Espanish….

  3. Cassandra says:

    Hilarious retelling, Hamantha. This is the tale that will be running through my head during the celebrations this week!

  4. Zamarriego says:

    Ego te absolvo a pecatis tuis, in nómine patri et filius et spíritu sacti.
    ¡Ja ja ja ja…! muuuuuy bueno, perdón, hola, hola.
    I am a madrileño, but I pardon the sacrilege to you so that your description of the life of San Isidro is very good.
    I also have another fantastic santo, I would give the world-wide prize him to the speech.

    Street of San Geroteo. Athenian, first bishop of Segovia, it died beheaded and with the head in the hand it followed preaching. ¡Ánda mejóralo…!

    Truth that not note that the translation is of the uncle google.
    Saludos, greetings.

  5. Zamarriego says:

    Ja, ja, ja… hola, hola, very good the update of the life of san Isidro. You are a sinner woman, but like madrileño; ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.
    “Con la Iglesia hemos topado Sancho” (Don Quijote dixit) with the life of the saints the possibilities are infinite.
    A ver si superas esto…
    san Geroteo, athenian, first bishop of Segovia; it died beheaded and with the head in the hand it followed preaching.
    Some televangelist it improvement?
    This he is blog very intelligent, I´ll back soon, greetings.

    • Hamatha says:

      Hola Jesus,
      Gracias por tus comentarios, los dos! Voy a tener que investigar este San Geroteo y hacer algo parecido! Y que casualidad porque he estado en Segovia hoy…


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