Saint Casilda of Toledo, Virgin -
This saint is listed in neither the Roman Martyrology nor Butler's
Lives of the Saints. But the Acta Sanctorum
stitches her story together from a number of incidental sources.1
Essentially, there are two quite separate stories. One centers on
the purportedly healing waters of a pool in Briviesca, Burgos,
that was associated for some reason with St. Vincent of Saragossa.
was the daughter of the Moslem King of Toledo. The King's
physicians had been unable to cure her from a flux of blood, but
it was revealed to her that if she went to St. Vincent's pool she
would be cured.
Her father obtained permission from the Christian king of Burgos
for his daughter to pass safely to the pool, agreeing in return to
free the Christian captives he had been holding. Along the way, as
Casilda was crossing a bridge her horse was frightened by a demon
and she fell into the water, but an angel came and rescued her.
When she arrived at the pool, the waters did cure her, and
considering all these miracles she took baptism and remained at
the pool as an anchorite for the rest of her life.
Through the ensuing years women would come to the pool to be cured
from a flux of blood. So far I have not found any images
associated with this story.
The other story is set in the years before Casilda's pilgrimage to
the pool. In it, she takes pity on the Christian captives that her
father is holding in prison. Every day she brings them bread and
meat folded up in the bosom of her garments. (According to one
variant, she also has a serving girl accompany her with meat and
bread in a basket.)
One day, her father stops her as she is leaving with the
foodstuffs and asks what she is carrying. She says, "roses." He
pulls at the folds in her clothing, and what he sees is indeed
roses. He knows she is somehow tricking him, but she continues her
daily missions and every time he stops her he sees only roses.
Similar stories are told of St.Elizabeth of Hungary and St. Godelieve.
In the image at left, the artist has edited the serving girl out
of the story and given the basket to Casilda. The problem of
making the saint look graceful with a load of stuff in her
clothes was elegantly solved by Zurbarán in his 1635 portrait of
At left: "Santa
Casilda ante su padre" – Choir, Burgos Cathedral. (Note
the Christian captives behind bars, lower left.)
Feast day: April 9
1Acta Sanctorum, April vol.
1, 847-50. The sources include the Burgos Breviary, a letter to
Rome petitioning (unsuccessfully) for Casilda's inclusion in the
Roman Martyrology, an otherwise unspecified "Vita Hispanica,"
and the 17th-century Martyrolgium Hispanum by Juan
Tamayo de Salazar.