San Isidro, Madrid

Built in the 17th century, the Basilica de San Isidro in Madrid is a Jesuit Baroque church containing the relics of Madrid's patron saint, San Isidro (d.1130), and his wife, Santa María de la Cabeza.


History of San Isidro

Designed by Pedro Sánchez after the Baroque style of Il Gesu (the principal church of the Jesuit order in Rome), the 17th-century San Isidro Basilica was the interim cathedral of Madrid from 1885 until the completion of Almudena Cathedral in 1993.

The Saints

Isidore the Laborer, also known as Isidore the Farmer (San Isidro Labrador) was a day laborer known for his goodness toward the poor and animals. He is the patron saint of farmers and of Madrid.

Isidore was born to very poor parents near Madrid around 1070. He was in the service of the wealthy Madrid landowner Juan de Vargas on a farm in the area, who later made Isidore bailiff of his entire estate of Lower Caramanca.

Every morning before going to work, Isidore heard Mass at one of the churches in Madrid. According to legend, one day his fellow-laborers complained to their master that Isidore was always late for work in the morning. When he investigated the claim, the master found Isidore at prayer while an angel was doing the ploughing for him. On another occasion, his master saw an angel ploughing on either side of him, so that Isidore's work was equal to that of three of his fellow-labourers. Isidore is also said to have brought back to life his master's deceased daughter, and to have caused a fountain of fresh water to burst from the dry earth in order to quench his master's thirst.

St Isidore married Maria Torribia, also a saint. She is known as Santa María de la Cabeza because her head (cabeza) is often carried in procession, especially during droughts. Isidore and Maria had one son, who died in his youth. On one occasion their son fell into a deep well and, at the prayers of his parents, the water of the well is said to have risen miraculously to the level of the ground, bringing the child with it, alive and well. Isidore and Maria then vowed continence and lived in separate houses.

Isidore died on May 15, 1130, at his birthplace close to Madrid. When King Philip III of Spain was cured of a deadly disease by touching the relics of the saint, the king replaced the old reliquary with a costly silver casket.

Isidore was canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV, at the same time as Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, and Philip Neri.

Festivals and Events

On Thursday of Holy Week, images of San Isidro and Santa Maria de la Cebeza are taken out in procession around the streets of the city.

Quick Facts on San Isidro

Site Information
Names:Colegiata de San Isidro · San Isidro
Styles:Baroque style
Dedication: St. Isidro
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:40.413001° N, 3.707175° W
Address:Calle Toledo 24
Madrid, Spain
Hours:Sep-Jul: Mon-Sat 7:30am-1pm and 6:30-8:30pm
Aug: Mon-Sat 7:30am-8:30pm, Sun 7:15-8:30pm
Lodging:View hotels near San Isidro
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.


  1. Basilica de San Isidro - Frommer's Madrid
  2. Isidore the Laborer - Wikipedia (some text incorporated under GFDL)

More Information

© Tomás Fano
© Luis García
© Holly Hayes

Map of San Isidro, Madrid

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