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Who has been called “the last scholar of the ancient world”?

As the ancient world waned, one bishop fought against the darkness of ignorance.

St. Isidore of Seville lived in the turbulent centuries following Rome’s collapse, when barbarians and Vikings threatened to eradicate the last vestiges of civilization and education. His own country of Spain was overrun with Visigoths who adhered to the Arian heresy, declaring that Jesus Christ was only a man and not God.

Born in 560 A.D. in Cartagena, he was educated at the cathedral school in Seville, where his older brother Leander—also a saint—taught. He was remarkably intelligent and quick at his studies. When Leander, who was bishop of Seville, passed away in 600, Isidore succeeded his brother in ministering to the diocese.

Over the next 40 years, Isidore worked ceaselessly to preserve, rebuild, and propagate the vanishing educational wealth achieved by Rome. He turned first to the unruly, heretical Visigoths, successfully expunging Arianism from Spain. Then he set to work instituting schools and seminaries like the one he had attended as a boy.

These schools, of course, needed textbooks, and so Isidore wrote the book that was to be used for 900 years in every cathedral school: the Etymologiae. This book was the forerunner of encyclopedias, containing vast knowledge on every subject from food to war to the mystery of Man.

Isidore’s devotion to unifying his splintered country through good education and the fullness of the Church inspired the surrounding European countries to follow in his footsteps. In this way, Isidore stopped the flood of barbarism from washing away centuries’ worth of evangelization and learning.

After Isidore’s death in 636, the Church lauded his memory as her “extraordinary doctor, the latest ornament of the Catholic Church, the most learned man of the latter ages, always to be named with reverence.”

To honor the legacy of St. Isidore, help preserve the history and knowledge of the Church by stocking your home with Catholic Traditions and Treasures. Compiled in Isidore’s encyclopedic style, this marvelously illustrated and carefully written book will take you on a fascinating journey into the timeless customs and traditions of the Church. A coffee table book that St. Isidore himself would be proud to own! Get your copy today at The Catholic Company!

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