Saint Lidwina, one of the famous saints of the Netherlands
Lidwina of Schiedam (1380/1386-1433) is a Dutch mystic and one of the most famous saints of the Netherlands. She is the patron saint of the chronically ill and the nurses, as well of the town of Schiedam.
There are several hagiographies written about her life.
According to the story about Lidwina’s life she was born on Palm Sunday, at the time the Passion was read. In 1396/7 she fell while ice skating and broke a rib. Due to this she remained paralyzed and bedridden for the rest of her life, a total of 38 years. While her disease worsened with the years, she concentrated more and more on the sufferings of Christ.
Lidwina acquired fame as a healer and a holy woman. She was well known for her visions, the answered prayers due to her intercession and the miracles that were performed.
Many visitors came to see and consult her and were impressed by the way she handled her painful and chronic disease. She was therefore considered a saint.
After her death in April 14, 1433 her grave in Schiedam became a place of pilgrimage. In 1434 a chapel was built over it. In 1615 her relics were secretly taken to Brussels because her cult was forbidden by the Protestant Reformation.
In the 19th century Catholics in Schiedam and beyond were committed to the return of some of its relics and for her canonization. In 1871 the relics were returned to Schiedam and on March 14, 1890 the pope officially canonized Lidwina. After her canonization pilgrims flocked towards Schiedam, especially around April 14. In 1926, for the first time since the Reformation, a procession was held again. In spite of the relapse in the sixties the veneration of Lidwina remained, although the large processions have disappeared.
© photos: Bea and Dick Hoeks-De Laat, 2007
Read more about Saint Lidwina (in Dutch) or about the project Places of Pilgrimage