April 4: St Isidore, Bishop and Doctor, Memorial

Murillo, 1665

St Isidore of Seville (c. 560 – 4 April 636)  may or may not have been a monk, but as bishop he certainly acted as protector of them and as a great promoter of the monastic life. 

The saint is best known as the first Christian encyclopedist, attempting to compile a summa of all of the known knowledge of the time.  He was also a diligent historian of the Spanish regions.  He saw education as a way of unifying the diverse peoples of his diocese, and uniting them against the barbarian invaders.  Due to his efforts, much classical learning was preserved that might otherwise have been lost.

As a bishop, he played a key role in converting the reigning dynasty from Arianism and suppressing heresy.

Map of the known world
from the first printed edition of the Etymologies of St Isidore
University of Texas collection

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