As many saints' lives attest, God can do boundless good work through the generous suffering of a soul who is willing to offer his or her pain in complete abandonment to Him. Saint Lydwine of Schiedam is one of the most astounding and unusual examples of such a saint: a victim soul consecrated entirely to God in expiation of others' sins, which is the perfect imitation of Christ.
Born to a poor family in 1380, Lydwine was a normal peasant girl of 14th-century Holland. One day when she was 15, she went ice skating with friends, but she was knocked over so hard that she broke a rib. From there, she became infected with a mysterious disease and grew more and more afflicted, though surviving—which fact signified the supernatural origin of what would turn out a lifelong illness. She was bedridden for years after that, and, because of her ability to survive nearly without food and because of her increasing mysticism and prayer life, some townsfolk suspected her of possession or consort with demons; but when the priest brought her an unconsecrated host, she recognized instantly that it was not God. Thus ended her accusations, and Lydwine gained a reputation as a healer and mystical holy woman.
She came to eat practically nothing aside from Holy Communion, and experienced many mystical phenomena. People would come to her for cures; when parts of her body fell off or out, her mother stored them, for they had a sweet odor. She was visited by many holy men, and she pesevered in this supernatural state of prolonged suffering for souls. Truly she was a victim soul: during an era of intense disorder and suffering in the Church, her body, with its sores and abscesses, virtually coming apart into three pieces, symbolically represented the condition of the Body of Christ.
In 1433, the Lord told her her suffering would be at an end when the rose bush was in full bloom; in the spring, she saw this come to pass. On Easter Sunday, 1433, Christ Himself came to administer the sacrament of Extreme Unction, and Lydwine passed into heavenly glory after 53 years of physical martyrdom for the sake of the Church. This biography recounts the incredible story of one of the most heroic victim souls in the history of the Church. Let Lydwine transform your heart by imitating her devotion and offering your pains for God's cause.
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