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May 1

St Isadora the Fool - May 1

Saint Isadora the Fool
Nun Who Fiegned Madness
(Around 300 – Around 365)

“You bless me, your Lord.”

Saint Isadora the Fool

Her Early Years

Isadora’s birthdate is unknown and is assumed to be after 300 in an unknown exact location. In fact, there are few biographical details concerning the early life of Isadora.

Joined the Tabenna Monastery

Again, Isadora’s age when she joined the Tabenna Monastery in Egypt is also unknown. Tabenna was the original monastery established by Saint Pachomius sometime after 325 AD. Saint Pachomius‘s sister Maria, with his help, established a woman’s monastery near her brother’s, creating the first full community for women in Egypt. At the time Isidora lived at the monastery, it is believed about four hundred women lived and worked there, devoting themselves to monastic life.

Life in the Tabenna Monastery

Taking upon herself the feat of folly, Isadora acted like one insane, feigning madness and be possessed by a demon. It was noted that none of the four hundred sisters of the monastery ever saw Isidora “chewing” (eating a formal meal) during the years of her life. Many of them regarded her with contempt. However, Isidora bore all this with great patience and meekness, blessing God for everything.

She worked in the kitchen and fulfilled the dirtiest, most difficult tasks at the monastery, cleaning the monastery of every impurity. They said she was “the monastery sponge,” fulfilling in fact the words of Scripture: “If any one seem to be wise among you in this world, let him become foolish that he may be wise.” Isidora covered her head with a plain rag, and instead of cooked food she drank the dirty wash water from the pots and dishes. She never became angry, never insulted anyone with a word, never grumbled against God or the sisters, and was given to silence.

Meeting Holy Piteroum

An angel appeared to the holy Piteroum, an anchorite of high reputation who lived in asceticism on Mt. Porphyrite. The angel said to him: “Why are you proud of yourself for being religious and dwelling in a place like this? Do you want to see a woman who is more religious than you? Go to the monastery of the Tabennesiot women and there you will find a woman wearing a crown on her head. She is better than you. For though she spars with so great a crowd, she has never let her heart go away from God. But you sit here and wander in imagination through the different cities.”

Since Piteroum was a renowned Elder and advanced in age, he was granted leave for the visit.

When Piteroum entered, he asked to see all of the nuns. But, Isidora did not appear.

Finally, Piteroum said to them: “Bring them all to me. One is missing.”

The sisters answered him: “There is one more in the kitchen who is a fool.”

Piteroum said to the sisters: “Bring her to me also. Allow me to see her.”

The sisters went and called her, but she did not submit either because she understood what was about to happen or because it had been revealed to her. So they dragged her by force, telling her: “The holy Piteroum wishes to see you”.

When Isadora had presented herself, Piteroum noticed the rag on her forehead, fell down before her, and said: “Bless me.”
In the same way, Isadora also fell at his feet, saying: “You bless me, my lord.”

Astonished, the sisters all told Piteroum: “Abba, do not debase yourself; she is a fool.”
Piteroum silenced them with the words: “You are the fools; she is my and your Amma—thus are spiritual Mothers called—, and I pray that I might be found to be her equal on the Day of Judgment.”

Having heard these things, the nuns fell at his feet, and each one confessed the ways in which she had affronted the Saint. One said that she poured filthy dish water on her, another that she struck her with her fists, and yet another that she had smeared her nostrils with mustard. All of them confessed the outrages they had committed against her. St. Piteroum prayed for them and departed.

Left The Monastery

Several days passed, Isadora was not able to bear the glory and honors shown to her by her sisters. Having wearied of their apologies, Isadora left the monastery in secret. After leaving the monastery, Isadora essentially disappeared and is believed to have fled to a desert hermitage where she spent the rest of her days.

Her Death

However, no stories, records or texts exist that indicate where she might have traveled to, how she lived, or how she died. Isadora is believed to have died around the year 365 in unknown location.

Born :                   Around 300 in an Unknown Location

Died:                    Around 365 in an Unknown Location

Beatified:            Pre-Congregation

Canonized:         Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:          May 1, May 10 on some calendars

Patron Saint:     None

Source:

Reflection 

Saint Isidora the Fool’s behavior seemed foolish to those who did not understand her motivations, yet she was esteemed for her wisdom in spiritual matters. From her life, we learn to be a fool for Christ and not think too hard about what others think of us. Saint Isadora the Fool challenges us to reevaluate our priorities, question societal expectations, and deepen our commitment to humility and dependence on God.

How might you be called today to challenge cultural or societal norms for the sake of living a more authentic Christian life, even if it means being misunderstood by others?

Prayers

Saint Isadora the Fool,

You, who embraced the unconventional path of simplicity, help me to strip away the unnecessary complexities in my life, so that I may draw closer to the essence of a genuine relationship with God.

Teach me the wisdom of holy foolishness, that I may find the courage to challenge societal norms for the sake of authenticity, and to trust fully in the divine providence of our loving Creator.

May your example inspire me to be unapologetically different for the sake of the Gospel, and to live a life marked by simplicity and direct communion with God.

Saint Isadora the Fool, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Catholic Online – St. Isidora the Simple

CatholicSaints.Info – Saints of the Day – Isadora of Egypt, Virgin – by Katherine I Rabenstein

CatholicSaints.Info – Palladius. “The Nun Who Feigned Madness”. The Lausiac History, 1918

Focus North America – Saint Isadora – A fool for Christ

Orthodox Christianity Now and Then – Saint Isidora the Fool For Christ

Orthodox Church in America – Blessed Isidora the Fool of Tabenna in Egypt

Saint for a Minute – Saint Isidora of Egypt

Video Link

Saint Isidora the Fool for Christ of Egypt – YouTube (Bible Illustrated)