April 4

St. Isidore of Seville

St. Isidore of Seville

The Two Brother-Bishops of Seville

St. Isidore of Seville was born in Cartagena in Spain around the year 560. His brother, Leander, the Archbishop of Seville, was an important influence to him. Isidore developed a commitment to study, prayer and intense work for the good of the Church. In turn, Isidore joined his brother’s mission to convert the generally heretical Visigoths who had invaded Spain.

When Leander died around the year 599, Isidore succeeded him as Seville’s archbishop. Isidore inherited his brother’s responsibility for Church affairs in an intense period of change, as the institutions of the Western Roman Empire gave way to the culture of the barbarian tribes. For thirty-seven years, he led the Spanish Church through a period of intense religious development and renewal. He also organized representative councils that established the structure and discipline of the Church in Spain.

Preserver of Knowledge and Civilization

In 633, at the Council of Toledo, Archbishop Isidore obtained a decree that required the establishment of a school in every diocese. These schools taught almost every branch of knowledge, which includes the liberal arts, law, medicine, Hebrew and Greek. This reflected the bishop’s broad interest. Isidore’s establishment of cathedral schools laid a foundation for the medieval universities and for education in the West.

For the welfare of the Church and civilization, the archbishop was determined to preserve the wisdom and knowledge of the past. He carefully maintained the fruitful synthesis of classical Roman culture and the Christian faith. He was also serious in preventing false teachings from destroying the unity of the Church in Spain.

Lover of the Poor

With Isidore leading, a series of local councils reinforced the orthodoxy of the Church of Spain against the erroneous teachings about Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity. He firmly emphasized that systematic and extensive education of the clergy was a necessary means of guarding the faithful against many heresies. Isidore was known as a prolific writer and a diligent leader of the Church. Above all, he did not neglect the poor. He served and helped them. Throughout his life, Isidore lived austerely so that he could help the poor.

His writings attest to this love and compassion he had for the poor: “Indeed, just as we must love God in contemplation, so we must love our neighbor with action. It is therefore impossible to live without the presence of both the one and the other form of life, nor can we live without experiencing both the one and the other.” In the last months of his life, Isidore offered a moving testament to these words. He intensified his charitable outreach to the less fortunate. Many people from various places who were in need flocked to his residence as he offered his last works of mercy on earth.

On April 4, 636, the holy Archbishop Isidore died in peace. His feast day is April 4. He was canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church in 1598, and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1722.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Isidore of Seville

  1. St. Isidore of Seville had three siblings, Leander, Fulgentius (both became bishops) and Florentina, who became a nun. They were also canonized as saints.
  2. St. Isidore of Seville compiled the Etymologiae, the first encyclopedia written from a Catholic perspective.
  3. St. Isidore of Seville is sometimes called “the schoolmaster of the Middle Ages” because his books and schools helped shape the education and culture of medieval Europe.
  4. Shortly before his death, St. Isidore of Seville had two friends clothe him in sackcloth and rub ashes on his head so that he could come before God as a poor penitent.
  5. Pope John Paul II named St. Isidore of Seville the patron saint of internet users.

Prayer to St. Isidore of Seville

Graciously hear the prayers, O Lord,which we make in commemoration of Saint Isidore,that your Church may be aided by his intercession,just as she has been instructed by his heavenly teaching.Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,God, for ever and ever. Amen.