Lives of the Saints

Our Models and Protectors

April 4
  

Saint Isidore

Archbishop and Doctor of the Church

Saint Isidore
Saint Isidore

Saint Isidore was born of a ducal family, at Carthagena in Spain. His two brothers, Leander, Archbishop of Seville, Fulgentius, Bishop of Ecija, and his sister Florentina, are all recognized by the Church as Saints. As a boy Isidore despaired over his poor success in study, and ran away from school. Resting in his flight at a roadside spring, he observed a stone, which had been hollowed out by the slow but constant dripping of water. This lesson decided him to return, and then, by determined application, he succeeded.

He went back to his master and with the help of God became, even as a youth, one of the most learned men of the time. He assisted in converting Prince Recared, the leader of the Arian party; and with his aid, though at the constant peril of his own life, expelled that heresy from Spain. Then, following a call from God, he turned a deaf ear to the entreaties of his friends, and embraced a hermit's life. Prince Recared and many of the nobles and clergy of Seville went to persuade him to come back, representing the needs of the times and the good he could do, and had already done, among the people. He refused, and, as far as we can judge, his retreat gave him the necessary opportunity of acquiring the virtue and power which afterwards made him an illustrious Bishop and Doctor of the Church.

On the death of his brother Leander, he was called to fill the vacant see. As a teacher, ruler, founder, and reformer, he labored not only in his own diocese, but throughout Spain, and his influence attained foreign countries. He died in Seville on April 4, 639, and within sixteen years of his death was declared a Doctor of the Catholic Church.

Reflection. The strength of temptation usually lies in the fact that its object is something flattering to our pride, soothing to our sloth, or in some way attractive to the baser passions. Saint Isidore teaches us to listen neither to the promptings of nature nor the plausible advice of friends, when they contradict the voice of God.

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler's Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).