Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Legend of St. Casilda

Casilda is an 11th century Catholic saint who converted from Islam.  She is variously known as Casilda of Toledo, Casilda of Burgos, Casilda of Briviesca, and Casilda of the Angels. Her father was the king of the Taifa of Toledo in Spain from 1043 to 1075.

Based on information in Spanish in an online article by Dolores Güell, the legend of St. Casilda is as follows:
Casilda showed special kindness to Christians imprisoned by her father by taking them food hidden in her clothing. Her father, the king, became aware of strange behavior on the part of his daughter, began to spy on her, and surprised her one day on her way to visit the prisoners.

Sternly, the king demanded to know what she was carrying. "Roses," replied Casilda, as she unfolded her overskirt. It was not that the food actually changed into roses. Rather, by a miracle, the food was made to look to the king like roses. He then gave Casilda free passage and she went on her way with her gifts for the prisoners.

Casilda learned about Christianity during her encounters with the prisoners and was drawn to the Faith but conversion was impossible under the circumstances.

After a time, she fell ill with a blood flow that none of the local doctors could cure. At the suggestion of the Christians, she traveled north to the province of Burgos, a brilliant retinue escorting her.

She sought baptism at Burgos and bathed in the miraculous waters of San Vicente near Briviesca. She prayed fervently and was cured.

After her miraculous healing, Casilda consecrated her virginity to Our Lord and became an anchoress, living a life of solitude and penance in a cave near the miraculous waters where she had been healed. Some sources say that she lived to be 100 years old. Many miracles are attributed to her intercession.
Casilda's feast day is April 9. Miracles worked through her intercession that are recorded in church documents include cases of blood flow, falls, and accidents. Relics of Casilda are venerated in the Cathedrals of Burgos and Toledo, and in the Relic Chapel of the Society of St. Pius X in St. Mary's, Kansas.  Her remains are at a shrine close to the cave where she lived.  The shrine is home to a painted wooden sculpture of Casilda said to be the work of Diego de Siloe.

Güell, Dolores; "Santa Casilda de Toledo" online article

One of Zurbaran's paintings of Casilda.  In the public domain.

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