Saint Lidwina was born in Schiedam, Holland, one of nine children. Her father was a labourer. At age fifteen, she was ice skating when she fell and broke a rib. She never recovered and became progressively disabled for the rest of her life. Her biographers state that she became paralysed except for her left hand and that great pieces of her body fell off, and that blood poured from her mouth, ears, and nose. Today some posit that Saint Lidwina is one of the first known multiple sclerosis patients and attribute her disability to the effects of the disease and her fall.
After her fall, Lidwina fasted continuously and acquired fame as a healer and holy woman. The town officials of Schiedam, her hometown, promulgated a document (which has survived) that attests to her complete lack of food and sleep. At first, she ate a little piece of apple, then a bit of date and watered wine, then river water contaminated with salt from the tides. The authenticating document from Schiedam also attests that Lidwina shed skin, bones, parts of her intestines, which her parents kept in a vase and which gave off a sweet odour. These excited so much attention that Lidwina had her mother bury them.
Lidwina died at the age of fifty-three on Easter Day, the fourteenth of April, 1433. She is known as the patron saint of ice skaters as well as those who suffer from paralysis.