SAINT LYDWINA of SCHIEDAM Virgin (1380-1433)

by angeliska on August 12, 2002

Her name means suffer in plenitude, and indeed her entire life was nothing but a continuous suffering.
Born at Schiedam, Holland, 18 April 1380, Lydwina was the most beautiful girl in all of Holland. She prayed every day for God to make her ugly so that she could live a chaste and pious life- at the age of 12, pledged her virginity to Christ. During the winter of the year of 1395, Lydwina went skating with her friends, one of whom caused her to fall upon some ice with such violence that she broke a rib in her right side. This was the beginning of her martyrdom. From now on she was so much disfigured by sickness that no man ever proposed to her.
At first a painful ulcer developed in her insides which opened only after one and a half years. Then, an amazing amount of pus left her mouth and weakened her to the point that she could only crawl on the floor for three years until she had to be tied to the bed. A burning sensation in her body caused insatiable thirst. However, whatever she drank, she promptly vomited again.
Lydwina lay abed for thirty years. Her limbs began to drop off. Her nose. Her lips. She used the fat of hens to soothe her maggot-infested wounds.
To her immense weakness, insomnia was added. The inner organs were afflicted by putrefaction. Huge worms crawled out of her wounds, to the horror of all those caring for her or visiting her. Her bones burned like fire. Also, horrible headache und incessant toothache often tortured her for months. The putrefaction of the abdomen increased to the point where they had to bandage her to keep the innards from falling out. Through forehead and chin, a deep crack developed, keeping her from talking. From her ears, nose, even from her eyes at all times a huge amount of blood left her body.
Some looked on her with suspicion, as being under the influence of the evil spirit. No medical skill availed to cure her; some modern medical historians believe that her complaints might be diagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis.
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, 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. On the morning of Easter-day, 1433, she was in deep contemplation and beheld, in a vision, Christ coming towards her to administer the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. Lydwina died “in the odour of great sanctity”, drowning in her own phlegm. Her last vision was of Christ administering last rites to her as she offered her pain to god….

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