St Isidore of Seville was a sixth century Spanish scholar, theologian, and Archbishop of Seville. He preserved learning from classical antiquity and converted the Visigothic kings to the Catholic Faith.
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What is Saint Isidore of Seville Known For?
Isidore was born in 556 AD in Cartagena, Spain.
He had a holy family, with two brothers who became saints (Sts Leander and Fulgentius) and a sister, St Florentina, an abbess.
His older brother Leander was a strict taskmaster and instructed Isidore with harsh discipline.
Isidore endured this treatment for a long time but ultimately came to the end of his rope and ran away from home.
Tradition has it that, after running away, he sat down and observed water dripping upon a rock. He realized that, while the individual drops of water seemed to do nothing to the rock, over a long period of time, the water wore away the rock.
He applied this lesson from nature to his education, deciding that his small but consistent efforts to learn would accumulate into great knowledge.
Leander was not so optimistic, however, and after Isidore came back home, Leander imprisoned him in a cell to finish his education.
Isidore demonstrated heroic patience, fortitude, and forgiveness, subjecting himself to his brother’s harsh methods and collaborating with him throughout their lives, even finishing a breviary and missal that St Leander died before completing.
St Isidore became the greatest theologian and scholar in Spain and the last great scholar of early Medieval times.
Isidore ensured that every diocese in Spain had a seminary and that the seminaries taught a wide breadth of knowledge, to preserve it and transmit it even though the Roman Empire had fallen.
He wrote a great tome, called the Etymologies that covered a vast range of fields from geography and language to theology and philosophy.
He succeeded his brother St Leander as Bishop of Seville, and remained so for almost 40 years.
The Arian heresy was still infesting Christendom at this time, but St Isidore evangelized the Visigoth rulers and by God’s grace convinced them to abandon Arianism and embrace Catholic Nicene orthodoxy.
Just before his death, he gave everything he had to the poor and needy.
He died on April 4th, 636, at around 80 years of age.