The Spanish bishop and scholar St. Isidore of Seville (560?-636) was born in Cartagena; there were three other canonized saints in his family, including his older brother St. Leander. Leander, who was twenty years older than Isidore, was responsible for his education; because he was so strict, Isidore ran away. Sitting alone in the woods, he noticed a stone worn down by water, one drop at a time, and realized that he could satisfy his brother in the same way: by learning a little bit at a time. Isidore returned to his studies, and eventually became a great scholar.
Leander became bishop of Seville; about the year 600, when Leander died, Isidore succeeded him, and remained Bishop of Seville for the rest of his life. He greatly strengthened the Church in Spain, establishing seminaries and religious houses, organizing church councils, and seeking to convert the Visigoths (a Germanic tribe which had invaded Spain) to Catholicism.
Isidore continued his scholarly endeavors, authoring a dictionary, an encyclopedia, a history of the Goths, and a history of the world. During his last few months, he increased his charities so much that his house was filled with beggars from dawn to nightfall. St. Isidore died in 636, and was later declared a Doctor (an eminent and reliable teacher) of the Church.
- 1. Holy parents often have holy children. Severinus and Theodora were themselves very virtuous, and four of their children — Leander, Fulgentius, Florentina, and Isidore — became canonized saints.
- 2. Jesus’ story about the powerless widow who finally received justice through her perseverance (Luke 18:1-7) is paralleled in the life of St. Isidore, who as a boy realized that great things could be accomplished simply by doing what he was capable of, a little bit at a time. We too are called to use our talents and to do our best, no matter how little or unimportant it seems, without giving up.
image: Ambrosius Benson, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons