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St. Wilgefortis

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Feastday: July 20
Patron of relief from tribulations, in particular by women who wished to be liberated ("disencumbered") from abusive husbands

Wilgefortis, also known as Liberata, Kummernis in Germany, in England as Uncumber, and in France as Livrade, among other names, her story is a pious fiction more folktale than religious, according to which she was one of nine daughters of a pagan Portuguese King. When her father wanted her to marry the King of Sicily, despite her vow of virginity, she prayed for help in resisting the marriage, whereupon she grew a beard and mustache and the suit was withdrawn. Her father was so furious he had her crucified. Father Charles Cahier, S.J., wrote, for my part, I am inclined to think that the crown, beard, gown and gown and cross which are regarded as the attributes of this marvelous maiden (in pictorial representations), are only a pious devotion to the famous crucifix of Lucca, somewhat gone astray. This famous crucifix was completely dressed and crowned, as were many others of the same period. In course of time, the long gown caused it to be thought that the figure was that of a woman, who on account of the beard was called Vierge-forte. We may add that the crucifix of Lucca was shod with silver to prevent the wearing away of the wood by the kissing of the feet by pilgrims. This also has been turned to the glorification of St. Wilgefortis. For it is said that a poor minstrel playing an air before the saint's statue was rewarded by her giving him one of her precious shoes. St. Wilgefortis' feast day is July 20.


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