A Visigoth mother

St Isidore was born in the mid 6th century, in Cartagena, south-east Spain. His father was a member of the old Hispano-Roman aristocracy and his mother was a Visigoth. His parents had been involved in converting the Visigoth kings to Catholicism from Arianism, a significant historical event.

Attacking heresy

Isidore was educated at the cathedral school in Seville, recently founded by the Church to spread the teaching of the classical liberal arts, in decline everywhere. At 40 he became archbishop of Seville, succeeding his brother. Under his rule he attacked heresy and encouraged education among the Visigoths.

He made all bishops in Hispania establish seminaries in their cathedral cities, and encouraged the study of Greek, Hebrew, law and medicine.

A bridge to the past

He died in 636 after 32 years as archbishop. Among his legacies are the Origines, an encyclopaedia that featured 448 chapters in two volumes, which helped to preserve much of classical learning.

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