Saints of the Day – Blessed Lidwina of Schiedam

1890 engraving of Saint Lydwina of SchiedamArticle

(also known as Lydwina, Lydwid, Lidwyna)

Born in Schiedam, the Netherlands, in 1380; died 1433; cultus approved in 1890. Lidwina, one of nine children of a laborer, developed a devotion to the Blessed Virgin in her childhood. When her mother would send her on any errand, Lidwina would visit the church to greet her Lady with a Hail Mary. At the age of 12, she pledged her virginity to Christ.

She was injured in 1396 while ice skating and became a life-long invalid. She was cruelly wed to agonizing bodily pains, ulcers, the Black Plague and other maladies, without counting the familial and spiritual complications. Lidwina bore the pain patiently as reparation for the sins of others.

For 30 years she received no explanation of her incredible sufferings except through Jesus Christ who confided in her and promised the consolation of a heavenly life. Upon the advice of her confessor, Jan Pot, Lidwina meditated night and day on our Lord’s passion, which she divided into seven parts, to correspond to the seven canonical hours of prayer. Through this practice Lidwina soon found all her bitterness and affliction converted into sweetness and consolation, and her soul so much changed, that she prayed to God to increase her pains and patience. Beginning in 1407, Lidwina began to experience supernatural gifts – ecstasies and visions in which she participated in the Passion of Christ, saw purgatory and heaven and visited with saints.

Though her family was poor, Lidwina gave away the major portion of the alms given to her by others. Upon the death of her parents, she bequeathed to the poor all the goods that they left to her.

The last 19 years of her life she partook of no food except the Holy Eucharist, slept little if at all during the last seven years of her life, and became almost completely blind and was unable to move any part of her body except her head and left arm. Her extraordinary sufferings attracted widespread attention. When a new parish priest accused her of hypocrisy, the people of the town threatened to drive him away. An ecclesiastical commission appointed to investigate declared her experiences to be valid.

She died on Easter Tuesday in 1433. Thomas a Kempis, author of Imitation of Christ and an eyewitness of some of her miracles, wrote her biography. The chapel in which her body lay in a marble tomb was renamed for her the following year, and her father’s house was converted into a monastery of Gray Sisters of the third order of Saint Francis. The Calvinists demolished the chapel and changed the monastery into a hospital for orphans. Her relics were translated to Brussels, and enshrined in the collegiate church of Saint Gudula. Isabella obtained a portion of her relics and enshrined them in the church of the Carmelite convent which she founded.

Lidwina was never formally beatified; however, a Mass was sung in her chapel at Schiedham on her festival, with a panegyric on the holy virgin. Her vita was 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 (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).

Lidwina is portrayed in art as a cripple holding a crucifix and receiving a branch of roses from an angel. Sometimes she may be shown (1) receiving a lily from the angel; (2) with a cross and rosary; (3) as a girl falling on ice while skating; or (4) working on embroidery (Roeder). She is the patron of skaters.

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 3 June 2020. Web. 8 August 2020. <>