Saint Wilgefortis, bearded lady (?)

A wondeful example of a sainted bearded lady?


Unfortunately, she may also be an example of a ‘saint’ whose biography is more popular fiction than recorded history.  Still, she is listed in the standard catholic reference works, and has had an official feast day, as well as bewildering array of aliases, among them Liberata, Kummernis,  Uncumber, and Livrade,   Of the biographical details, take them as you will.  For what it is worth, the legend says that she was the daughter of a king, who had taken a vow of virginity.  When her father wanted to marry her off to the King of Sicily, she prayed for deliverance from this evil fate.   Whereupon she grew a beard.  What self-respecting king would want to marry a bearded princess?  Her father was said to be so enraged at this that he had her crucified.  This may be the reason she bacem known as the patron saint of difficult marriages – but crucifixion seems an extreme way to end one.

Modern sceptical scholars suggest that the story of her beard and crucixion are sheer invention.  Spoilsports!  Why let facts get in the way of a good story?  Sadly, her “cult was supressed and she was dropped from the calendar in 1969”.

For more, see:

Catholic Online

Patron Saints Index


LGBT Catholic Handbook (Calendar of LGBT Saints)

For more images of the bearded wonder, see

Google images

2 Responses to “Saint Wilgefortis, bearded lady (?)”

  1. Kittredge Cherry Says:

    I overlooked St. Wilgefortis in my search for GLBT saints. Thanks for alerting me with this wonderful post. I love the image, too. Do you know the source?

    And I agree with you: “Why let facts get in the way of a good story?”

    • queeringthechurch Says:

      I like the story, but am highly sceptical, which is why a deliberately excluded her from the rundown for all saints.
      Until I can find and fix the broken link, there is a page for the TV saints on this site as a subdivision of the saints page, or the broken link could be to the LGBT handbook, which is always my starting point, supplemented by additional checks with sources like the on-line Catholic Encyclopedia and Wikipedia. I didn’t keep records of the source for Wilgefortis, but by memory it was a simple Google Image search that tracked her down.

      If you’re doing TV saints, there’s one obvious omission that was pointed out to me when I ran something on the Daily Kos – Joan of Arc! I keep menaing to add her, and keep overlooking it. She’s much more relevant than the tales of women cross-dressing to get into a monastery. I also read recently (I wish I had kept the source) that the cross-dressing, and the masculine military role, were the real reasons for the anger of the clergy.

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