Monday, 20 July 2020

saint wilgefortis

Though officially delisted from the martyrology of saints in the late sixteenth century and her veneration suppressed, the iconography of and devotions to the bearded saint—whose English name is thought to have derived from the Latin for courageous virgin but goes by many others (see previously)—are still to be found to the present age and is feted on this day.
Also going by Uncumber, Ontkommer (Dutch), [ohne] Kรผmmernis (German), Liberata (Italian), Librada (Spain) and Dรฉbarras (good riddance in French), Wilgefortis symbolises the liberation or disencumberment from abusive relationships and is invoked for relief to that end. Historians speculate that her origins can be traced to androgynous depictions of Jesus but was embellished with her own story and cult in the 1420s in Galicia, with a noble woman not wanting to be forced into her arranged marriage and praying for a way out—and miraculous sprouted facial hair that made her repulsive to her betrothed. In iconographic depictions, Wilgefortis’ beard ranges from minimal to quite lush and substantial and is shown often crucified—sadly her fate for showing up and looking unpresentable—with a small fiddler at her feet, having given away her wedding dowry, represented by a silver shoe, to the poor.