St. Isidore of Seville

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Isidore of Seville (560 – 636) was a Spanish scholar and cleric. For over three decades, he was Archbishop of Seville. He is widely regarded, in the words of 19th-century historian Montalembert, as “the last scholar of the ancient world”.

Two centuries of Gothic control of Iberia incrementally suppressed the ancient institutions, learning, and manners of the Roman Empire, leading to a disintegration of classical culture, aristocratic violence and widespread illiteracy. The ruling Visigoths adopted Arianism as the form of accepted Christianity in their Kingdom and the heresy took deep root in their culture. Isidore was instrumental in the conversion of the Arian Visigothic kings to Catholicism. He was influential in the inner circle of Sisebut, Visigothic king of Hispania. Like Leander, he played a prominent role in the Councils of Toledo and Seville.

Isidore attempted to weld the peoples and subcultures of the Visigothic kingdom into a united nation. He used all available religious resources toward this end and succeeded. Isidore practically eradicated the heresy of Arianism and completely stifled the new heresy of Acephali at its outset. Archbishop Isidore strengthened religious discipline throughout his see. Archbishop Isidore also used resources of education to counteract increasingly influential Gothic barbarism throughout his episcopal jurisdiction. Isidore introduced his countrymen to Aristotle long before the Arabs studied Greek philosophy extensively.

His fame after his death was based on his Etymologiae, an etymological encyclopedia that assembled extracts of many books from classical antiquity that would have otherwise been lost. He also invented the period, the comma, and the colon.


  • Etymologiae

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Quotes and Excerpts:

ETYMOLOGIES (inter A. D. 627-636]

[6, 2, 45]
For many of the Latins it is uncertain that the Epistle to the Hebrews is Paul’s, because of the lack of harmony in its vocabulary. Some suspect that it was written by Barnabas,
others that it was written by Clement.

[7, 10, 1]
Mary signifies Light-giver or Star of the Sea; for she gave birth to the Light of the world. In the Syriac tongue, however, Mary means “Lady”, and beautifully so, since she gave birth to the Lord.

Mary, which means Lady or Light-giver, illustrious descendant of
David, rod of Jesse, closed garden, sealed fountain, Mother of the
Lord, temple of God, sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, holy Virgin, pregnant Virgin, Virgin before giving birth, Virgin after giving birth.
-De ortu et obitu Patrum III (On the Origin and Death of the Fathers)

Mary represents the Church, which, being wedded to Christ, con-
ceived us as a virgin by the Holy Spirit and as a virgin bore us.
-Allegoriae 139


“I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and hers” (Gen 3:15). The seed of the devil is a perverse suggestion; the seed of the woman is the fruit of a good work, by which the perverse suggestion of the devil is resisted.
She will tread upon his head, because from the beginning she expels his perverse suggestions from her mind. He will strike at her heel, because until the end he will try to deceive her mind, which he was unable to deceive with his first suggestion. Some have understood the following expression in reference to the Virgin, from whom the Lord was born: “I will put enmity between you and the woman”, since it was promised that the Savior was going to be born from her, in order to defeat the enemy and to destroy death, of which the enemy was the author.
For they also understand the following as a reference to the fruit of Mary’s womb; namely, Christ: “She will tread upon your head, and you will strike at her heel.” This means: You will attack him to kill him, but he (Christ), after you have been defeated, will rise again and tread upon your head, which is death.
-Isidore of Seville, Quaestiones in Genesim S, 5-7;

“It is plain that baptism is to be conferred by priests only, and it is not lawful even for deacons to administer it without permission of the bishop or priest.”
-De ecclesiasticis officiis 2: 25 (On Church Duties)

The Spirit of God administers the grace of baptism, although it be a pagan who does the baptizing,”
-can. Romanus de cons., iv


*Baptism is not the work of man
but of Christ,
and this sacrament is so holy
that it would not be defiled.
even if the minister
were a murderer.”

-can. Romanus de cons.

Synonyma or On the Lamentations of a Sinful Soul (53), St. Isidore of Seville states: “Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin. All hope consists in confession. In confession is found the place of mercy. Believe, therefore, most certainly, and in no way hesitate, in no way doubt, and by no means despair of the mercy of God. Have hope in confession, have faith in it. Do not despair of this remedy of spiritual health. And do not despair in your healing, so long as you desire to turn to better things.”

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