Skip to content

St. Isidore of Seville

Short Cuts

Author and Publisher - Catholic Online

Image of St. Isidore of Seville

Facts

Feastday: April 4
Death: 636

Isidore was literally born into a family of saints in sixth century Spain. Two of his brothers, Leander and Fulgentius, and one of his sisters, Florentina, are revered as saints in Spain. It was also a family of leaders and strong minds with Leander and Fulgentius serving as bishops and Florentina as abbess.

This didn't make life easier for Isidore. To the contrary, Leander may have been holy in many ways, but his treatment of his little brother shocked many even at the time. Leander, who was much older than Isidore, took over Isidore's education and his pedagogical theory involved force and punishment. We know from Isidore's later accomplishments that he was intelligent and hard-working so it is hard to understand why Leander thought abuse would work instead of patience.

One day, the young boy couldn't take any more. Frustrated by his inability to learn as fast as his brother wanted and hurt by his brother's treatment, Isidore ran away. But though he could escape his brother's hand and words, he couldn't escape his own feeling of failure and rejection. When he finally let the outside world catch his attention, he noticed water dripping on the rock near where he sat. The drops of water that fell repeatedly carried no force and seemed to have no effect on the solid stone. And yet he saw that over time, the water drops had worn holes in the rock.

Isidore realized that if he kept working at his studies, his seemingly small efforts would eventually pay off in great learning. He also may have hoped that his efforts would also wear down the rock of his brother's heart.

When he returned home, however, his brother in exasperation confined him to a cell (probably in a monastery) to complete his studies, not believing that he wouldn't run away again.

Either there must have been a loving side to this relationship or Isidore was remarkably forgiving even for a saint, because later he would work side by side with his brother and after Leander's death, Isidore would complete many of the projects he began including a missal and breviary.

In a time where it's fashionable to blame the past for our present and future problems, Isidore was able to separate the abusive way he was taught from the joy of learning. He didn't run from learning after he left his brother but embraced education and made it his life's work. Isidore rose above his past to become known as the greatest teacher in Spain.

His love of learning made him promote the establishment of a seminary in every diocese of Spain. He didn't limit his own studies and didn't want others to as well. In a unique move, he made sure that all branches of knowledge including the arts and medicine were taught in the seminaries.

His encyclopedia of knowledge, the Etymologies, was a popular textbook for nine centuries. He also wrote books on grammar, astronomy, geography, history, and biography as well as theology. When the Arabs brought study of Aristotle back to Europe, this was nothing new to Spain because Isidore's open mind had already reintroduced the philosopher to students there.

As bishop of Seville for 37 years, succeeding Leander, he set a model for representative government in Europe. Under his direction, and perhaps remembering the tyrannies of his brother, he rejected autocratic decision- making and organized synods to discuss government of the Spanish Church.

Still trying to wear away rock with water, he helped convert the barbarian Visigoths from Arianism to Christianity.

He lived until almost 80. As he was dying his house was filled with crowds of poor he was giving aid and alms to. One of his last acts was to give all his possessions to the poor.

When he died in 636, this Doctor of the Church had done more than his brother had ever hoped; the light of his learning caught fire in Spanish minds and held back the Dark Ages of barbarism from Spain. But even greater than his outstanding mind must have been the genius of his heart that allowed him to see beyond rejection and discouragement to joy and possibility.



St. Isidore of Seville Comments


More Saints






Browse Saints by Category


Popular Saints

Rank

Saint

73.

Image of St. Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier was a Navarrese-Basque Roman Catholic missionary born in the Kingdom of Navarre on April 7, 1506. His father was a privy counselor and finance minister to King John III ... continue reading

74.

Image of St. Martha

St. Martha

"Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus." This unique statement in John's gospel tells us of the special relationship Jesus had with Martha, her sister, and her brother. Apparently Jesus ... continue reading | shop

75.

Image of Pope Saint Gregory the Great

Pope Saint Gregory the Great

Pope Saint Gregory I, also known as the Great, was the Pope of the Catholic Church between 590 and 604 AD. Gregory was born around 540 in Rome. The exact date of his birth is unknown. ... continue reading

All Popular Saints

Saint of the Day

Image of St. Zita

St. Zita

St. Zita was born into a poor but holy Christian family. Her older sister became a Cistercian nun and her uncle Graziano was a hermit whom the local people regarded as a saint. Zita herself always ... continue reading

More Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day by E-Mail

Saint of the Day newsletter icon

Learn about the lives of the saints and other saint resources, including a calendar, over 5,000 saint biographies, our most popular saints, and a list of patron saints. 7 days / week. See Sample


Required


Female Saints

Image of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was born as Maria Francesca Cabrini on July 15, 1850 in Sant' Angelo Lodigiano, Lombardy, Italy. She was born two months premature and the youngest of thirteen children. Unfortunately, only three of her siblings survived past adolescence and ... continue reading

More Female Saints



Saint Calendar
Saint Feast Days
Saint Fun Facts

Angels

Image of St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel isn't a saint, but rather he is an angel, and the leader of all angels and of the army of God. This is what the title "Archangel" means, that he is above all the others in rank. St. Michael has four main responsibilities or offices, as we ... continue reading


Image of St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel is an angel who serves as a messenger for God to certain people. He is one of the three archangels. Gabriel is mentioned in both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible. First, in the Old Testament, Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel to explain his ... continue reading



Saints Fun Facts

Saints Fun Facts for St. John of Sahagun

St. John of Sahagun

John Gonzales de Castrillo was born at Sahagun, Leon Spain. He was educated by the Benedictine monks of Fagondez monastery there and when twenty, received a canonry from the bishop of Burgos, though he already had several benefices. He was ordained in 1445; concerned ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts for St. John Vianney

St. John Vianney

Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney, known as John in English, was born May 8, 1786 in Dardilly, France and was baptized the same day. He was the fourth of six children born to Matthieu and Marie Vianney. John was raised in a Catholic home and the family often helped the poor ... continue reading



Christian Saints & Heroes

Image of Saint Patrick in blue vestments.

Bet you didn't know these 10 things about St. Patrick and Ireland!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The most kids know of St. Patrick 's Day is that you must wear green or you'll get a pinch from your friends. Adults see the day as an occasion to celebrate, sometimes with green beer and other assorted alcoholic beverages. However, few really know what they are ... continue reading

More Christian Saints & Heroes

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.