St. Isidore, Bishop of Seville, was born in Cartagena, Spain, in 560. Under the strict supervision of his brother, who used to shut him up in a cell to prevent him from straying, he became the most learned person of his age. Appointed Bishop of Seville about the year 600, Isidore helped in the conversion of the Visigoths from Arianism. He also presided over the Fourth Council of Toledo in 633, which decreed the standardisation of liturgical practice and the establishment of cathedral schools. Thanks to him, Spain became a center of culture when the rest of Europe was lapsing into barbarism.

Isidore was also a a great writer. Chief among his works was the etymologies, an early encyclopedia that attempted to compile all sciences. It was a favourite textbook for students during the Middle Ages, and it remained for centuries a standard reference book. His Three Books of Sentences was the first Church’s manual of Christian doctrine and ethics.

Until the end of his life, Isidore continued practicing penance and austerity. During the last six months, he increased his charities to such an extent that from morning to night his house was besieged by the poor. In 636, after receiving the last sacraments, he forgave his debtors, distributed to the poor the rest of his possessions, and died peacefully in the Lord.