St. Isidora, the Fool of Tabenna Monastery


Commemorated on May 1

St. Isidora, Fool-for-Christ, struggled in the Tabenna Monastery in Egypt during the sixth century. She acted like someone who was insane, and refused to eat with the other sisters of the monastery. Many of them regarded her with contempt, but Isidora bore her troubles with great patience and meekness, blessing God for everything.

She worked in the kitchen and fulfilled the dirtiest, most difficult tasks at the monastery, cleaning it of every impurity. Isidora covered her head with a plain rag, and instead of cooked food, she drank the dirty wash water from the pots and dishes. She never became angry, never insulted anyone, and never grumbled against God or the sisters.

St. Pitirim, a desert monk, had a vision of St. Isidora. An angel appeared to him and said, “Go to the Tabenna Monastery. There you will see a sister wearing a rag on her head. She serves them all with love, and endures their contempt without complaint. Her heart and her thoughts rest always with God. You, on the other hand, sit in solitude, but your thoughts flit about all over the world.”

The Elder traveled to the Tabenna Monastery, but he did not see St. Isidora among the sisters. They then led Isidora to him, as they thought she was a demoniac. Upon seeing him, Isidora fell down at the knees of the Elder and asked for his blessing. St. Pitirim bowed down to the ground and said, “Bless me first, venerable Mother!”

To the astonishment of the sisters, the Elder said, “Before God, Isidora is higher than all of us!” The sisters began to repent, confessing their harsh treatment of Isidora, and asked her to forgive them. However, Isidora ran away due to her unwanted fame. Her fate remains unknown, although it is believed she died around 365.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)