St. Lidwina of Schiedam (1380-1433)

Possibly the earliest known descriptions of a case of Multiple Sclerosis referred to the woman depicted in this woodcut, St. Lidwina of Schiedam. Lidwina lived in 14th century Holland and historical texts reveal that she was afflicted with a debilitating disease, sharing many characteristics with MS.

St Lidwina’s disease began soon after a fall while skating, at the age of 16. From that time onwards, she developed walking difficulties, headaches and violent pains in her teeth. By the age of 19, both her legs were paralysed and her vision was disturbed. Over the next 34 years, Lidwina's condition slowly deteriorated, although with apparent periods of remission, until eventually she died at the age of 53.

St Lidwina's symptoms were consistent with those of MS, as were the age of onset, duration and course of disease. Together these factors suggest that a posthumous diagnosis of MS may be plausible, therefore dating MS back to the 14th century.

==> Sir Augustus d'Esté (1794-1848)

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