Sunday, April 18, 2010
Taking a look back at St. Isidore of Seville
St. Isidore of Seville (c. 560-636)
The Feast of St. Isidore of Seville falls on April 4. This year the feast was naturally eclipsed by the Feast of the Resurrection. Isidore is considered the last of the ancient Christian philosophers and the last Latin father of the Church. He was involved in the conversion of the Arian Visigoth kings to Catholicism. As a bishop he presided over the Fourth Council of Toledo (633). He wrote the 20 volume Etymologiae, (or Origines), an encyclopedia which is the first known to be compiled in the Middle Ages and which was used throughout that time period and well into the Renaissance. Isidore's influence began in the 7th c. and reached into the early 16th c. In 1722 he was named a Doctor of the Church. More recently he has been designated patron saint of the Internet in the Catholic Church.
Liturgically, especially in terms of the liturgies of the Latin West, including that of the Hispano-Mozarabic Rite, Isidore's writing is significant for his record of liturgical origins in De Ecclesiasticis Officiis. Recently an English translation has been made available as No. 61 in the Ancient Christian Writers series.
Isidore writes brief descriptions of the parts of the Mass and of various liturgical feasts and liturgical practices. In Chapter XVI he writes of The Nicene Symbol:
"The Symbol, which is proclaimed by the people at the time of sacrifice, was promulgated by the 318 holy fathers gathered at the synod of Nicaea. This rule of the true faith excels in mysteries of such great doctrine that it speaks about every part of the faith, and there is almost no heresy to which it does not respond through individual words or statements. It tramples on all the errors of impiety and blasphemies of faithlessness, and because of this it is proclaimed by the people in all the churches with equal confession." (41)