Pope on Saint Isidore of Seville


18 June 08 - On Wednesday Pope Benedict XVI invited Christians world wide to pray that the International Eucharistic Congress rekindle awareness in the faithful of those evangelical values that have forged the Catholic identity down through the centuries.

The Pope was speaking in Italian to pilgrims attending his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square.

Shaded from the beating sun by a large white canopy the Pope said he was spiritually close to the Congress participants drawn from Africa, Asia the Americas and Europe and expressed his hope that it be an occasion of prayer, reflection and contemplation on the mystery of the Holy Eucharist.
Pope Benedict's words followed on from his teachings on the life of Saint Isidore of Seville, the brother of Saint Leander and a contemporary and friend of Saint Gregory the Great.

"Isidore lived during the Visigothic invasions of Spain, and he devoted much energy to converting the barbarian tribes from heresy and preserving the best fruits of classical and Christian culture. His encyclopedic, albeit somewhat eclectic, learning is reflected in his many writings, including the Etymologies, which were widely read throughout the Middle Ages. Isidore worked to bring the richness of pagan, Jewish and Christian learning to the rapidly changing political, social and religious situations in which he lived".

Pope Benedict paused to reflect at length on this Spanish Saint's insistence on prayer and mission. Often during his life, noted the Pope, Saint Isidore struggled with conflicting desires.

"Throughout his life, he was torn between his devotion to study and contemplation, and the demands made by his responsibilities as a Bishop, especially towards the poor and those in need. He found his model in Christ, who joined both the active and contemplative life, and sought to "love God in contemplation and one's neighbour in action" (Differentiarum Liber, 135).

This, concluded Pope Benedict is a lesson which is as valid today as it was in the life of the great Bishop of Seville.