Santa Librada

15 04 2009

santalib

Or St. Wilgefortis. Her origins are obscure, but the most common story is that she was a daughter of a pagan king in Portugal who prayed to be made ugly by God in order to prevent her marriage to another pagan king. She instantly grew a beard in response to her prayer. She is said to be the patroness of women stuck in bad marriages The Wikipedia article is very informative, and here is another image I found of her there, this time in Prague:

451px-wilgefortis_prague_1139v

Also, on another website, I found the following information about her:

In the Middle Ages Santa Librada was the patron saint of prostitutes and by extension became the patron saint of women in labour. Apparently pregnant women (would) go to Siguenza cathedral to recite the following:

Santa Librada,
Santa Librada,
que la salida
sea tan dulce
como la entrada!

… which means:

Santa Librada,
May the way out
Be as sweet
As the way in!

Felix Coluccio, in his book, Cultos y Canonizaciones Populares de Argentina, describes the cult to Santa Librada in the north of that country. She is generally invoked to find animals, and also to escape authorities after having committed a crime, using the following prayer:

Santa Librada, ayúdame en esta disparada (Saint Librada, help me in this mess)

..after which the criminal should run and hide.

As in the case with many saints of this region, a miracle granted is compensated with a feast thrown by the devotee, preceded by a novena. The dance is the most important part, and can be a rowdy occasion, often put to an end, according to the author, by someone firing a revolver in the air.