Planting a garden this spring? You’ll need good sunshine, some water…and maybe a couple blessings from San Ysidro.
2017 marks the 19th Blessing of the Fields celebration at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, an annual event honoring a centuries-old tradition. So where does the celebration originate? Why do we honor May 15 each year? Who was San Ysidro? Read on for five things you might not know about this time-honored tradition.
In 1070, a man named Isidore (or Isidro or Ysidro, depending on the source) was born in Madrid to poor but deeply religious parents. He worked his entire life as a hired hand to a wealthy landowner and was said to have shared all he had – even his meals – with the poor.
As the story goes, Isidore’s fellow hired hands one day complained to the landowner master about Isidore’s routine lateness. When the master investigated the matter, according to legend, he found Isidore praying while an angel ploughed the field for him. Later, Isidore’s master is said to have seen two angels ploughing the field along with him, resulting in three times the work of the other workers.
In addition to angels ploughing the fields, Isidore is also credited with other miracles – 438, to be exact. These include bringing his master’s deceased daughter back to life; causing a fresh water fountain to burst from the earth to quench the master’s thirst; turning his wife’s stew into an endless supply to feed the hungry; and more.
Isidore reportedly died on May 15, 1130, though it was another 500 years before he was canonized. Now known as the patron saint of farmers, peasants, day laborers and agriculture, the day of his death is celebrated throughout Spain and other countries as the Feast Day of San Isidore.
If you’re wondering what his story has to do with Las Cruces, we’re glad you asked. The story of San Isidore (known here as San Ysidro) has been passed down through the generations and still inspires many farmers and their families in the Mesilla Valley. For many years, workers in San Miguel would make a pilgrimage each May, stopping at all the villages along the valley. There would be a fiesta, with food and entertainment. This tradition has become known locally as the Blessing of the Fields.
This time-honored tradition, held each year at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, includes a music-filled, colorful procession around the museum grounds to bless the animals, plants, acequia and fresh-baked bread; storytelling by Bishop Emeritus Ricardo Ramirez; a piñata busting; a variety of demonstrations; and a plant sale featuring vegetables, flowers and desert plants grown in the museum’s greenhouse.
Even better? Visitors who come to the museum to participate in the procession from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. will not be charged admission! That means you have the entire rest to the day to check out all the wonders the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum has to offer.
Don’t miss out on this annual celebration. Honor our tradition and heritage at the 19th annual Blessing of the Fields at the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum this May 15.
Monday, May 15 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
The New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum
4100 Dripping Springs Rd., Las Cruces
Cost is free; suitable for all ages. Visit nmfarmandranchmuseum.org for more information.