Lydwine, also known as Liduina, Lidwina, Ludwina or Liedewij is a Dutch mystic; her cult as a saint was confirmed in 1890 by Pope Leo XIII. She is one of the most venerated Dutch saints.
Lydwine was the only female daughter of Peter, a night watchman, and Petronella, who had eight other sons. Following a fall on the ice, at the age of 15, Lydwine remains paralyzed and spends the rest of her life in bed. Disability progressively increases, and in the last years of life she could only use her left hand. From the historical documents concerning Lydwine ‘s disease a clinical picture emerges that reminds one of multiple sclerosis. In fact, she began to suffer from a debilitating disease from the age of 15, shortly after her fall, and later her motor skills decreased and began to suffer from severe headaches and toothaches. At the age of 19, she was paralyzed on both legs and had vision problems. During the next 34 years, her condition worsened even though there were periods of stability. According to other authors, she presented the symptoms of anorexia.
For her strength of mind, many contemporaries, especially chronic sick people, went to visit her to receive advice and comfort.
She died at the age of 53. According to some hagiographies Lydwine would have had the stigmata. After her death, her tomb became a destination for pilgrimages.
Thomas of Kempis wrote a biography. Another famous hagiography of the saint was written, in two different versions, by the Franciscan preacher Johannes Brugman between 1433 and 1456.
A statue and the relics of the saint are kept in the “Church of Santa Liduina” in Schiedam.
Caroline Walker Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1987