April 4

Saint of the day:

Saint Isidore of Seville

The Story of Saint Isidore of Seville

Isidore was literally born into a family of saints in sixth century Spain. Two of his brothers, Leander and Fulgentius, and one of his sisters, Florentina, are revered as saints in Spain. It was also a family of leaders and strong minds with Leander and Fulgentius serving as bishops and Florentina as abbess.

This didn't make life easier for Isidore. To the contrary, Leander may have been holy in many ways, but his treatment of his little brother shocked many even at the time. Leander, who was much older than Isidore, took over Isidore's education and his pedagogical theory involved force and punishment. We know from Isidore's later accomplishments that he was intelligent and hard-working so it is hard to understand why Leander thought abuse would work instead of patience.

One day, the young boy couldn't take any more. Frustrated by his inability to learn as fast as his brother wanted and hurt by his brother's treatment, Isidore ran away. But though he could escape his brother's hand and words, he couldn't escape his own feeling of failure and rejection. When he finally let the outside world catch his attention, he noticed water dripping on the rock near where he sat. The drops of water that fell repeatedly carried no force and seemed to have no effect on the solid stone. And yet he saw that over time, the water drops had worn holes in the rock.

Isidore realized that if he kept working at his studies, his seemingly small efforts would eventually pay off in great learning. He also may have hoped that his efforts would also wear down the rock of his brother's heart.

When he returned home, however, his brother in exasperation confined him to a cell (probably in a monastery) to complete his studies, not believing that he wouldn't run away again.

Either there must have been a loving side to this relationship or Isidore was remarkably forgiving even for a saint, because later he would work side by side with his brother and after Leander's death, Isidore would complete many of the projects he began including a missal and breviary.

In a time where it's fashionable to blame the past for our present and future problems, Isidore was able to separate the abusive way he was taught from the joy of learning. He didn't run from learning after he left his brother but embraced education and made it his life's work. Isidore rose above his past to become known as the greatest teacher in Spain.

His love of learning made him promote the establishment of a seminary in every diocese of Spain. He didn't limit his own studies and didn't want others to as well. In a unique move, he made sure that all branches of knowledge including the arts and medicine were taught in the seminaries.

His encyclopedia of knowledge, the Etymologies, was a popular textbook for nine centuries. He also wrote books on grammar, astronomy, geography, history, and biography as well as theology. When the Arabs brought study of Aristotle back to Europe, this was nothing new to Spain because Isidore's open mind had already reintroduced the philosopher to students there.

As bishop of Seville for 37 years, succeeding Leander, he set a model for representative government in Europe. Under his direction, and perhaps remembering the tyrannies of his brother, he rejected autocratic decision- making and organized synods to discuss government of the Spanish Church.

Still trying to wear away rock with water, he helped convert the barbarian Visigoths from Arianism to Christianity.

He lived until almost 80. As he was dying his house was filled with crowds of poor he was giving aid and alms to. One of his last acts was to give all his possessions to the poor.

When he died in 636, this Doctor of the Church had done more than his brother had ever hoped; the light of his learning caught fire in Spanish minds and held back the Dark Ages of barbarism from Spain. But even greater than his outstanding mind must have been the genius of his heart that allowed him to see beyond rejection and discouragement to joy and possibility.





Basilica de San Isidoro

(Basilica of St Isidore)

Plaza San Isidoro 4

24003 Leon, Spain

*In 1063 the relics of St Isidore of Seville were transferred to this church. They now rest within a silver urn in the main sanctuary. During his life much of Roman society collapsed leaving academic institutions in disarray. During this time St Isidore used his great gifts as a scholar to preserve and pass on much of the ancient classical learning. He is considered by many as the most learned man of his age.


Catedral de Murcia

Plaza Cardenal Belluga 1

30001 Murcia, Spain

*Some bones of St Isidore of Seville rest within a silver urn in the main sanctuary of this church. This urn holds remains from all four of the Cartagena saints: St Isidore of Seville, St Leander, St Fulgentius, and St Florentina.

What to eat today?

Tapas, Serranito Sandwich, Pringá Sandwich, Torrijas, Fried Fish, Acorn fed Iberian Ham, Carrillada, Sherry wines.... 


Solomillo al Whisky

  • 1 pork solomillo (approx 400 grams)*

  • 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled and mashed

  • 200 ml broth

  • 200 ml whisky

  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

  • 1-2 tsp flour

  • olive oil


  1. Slice pork tenderloin into fillets, salt & pepper to taste.

  2. Put a couple tbsps of olive oil in a large skillet, add the garlic cloves and pork fillets and brown the meat on both sides until cooked to the point you like it.

  3. Remove to a warm plate.

  4. In the same pan, add the lemon juice and stir quickly on medium heat, then add the whisky.

  5. Stir well, then add the flour, whisking quickly to cook it slightly and then add the broth.

  6. Simmer and stir until you have the consistency of sauce you prefer and then place the solomillo into the sauce for a minute or so to heat through.

  7. Serve with pan seared potatoes topped with olive oil

Marinated Carrots (Zanahorías Aliñadas)


  • 6-7 large carrots

  • 2-4 garlic cloves 

  • 1 T dried oregano

  • 2 t cumin

  • 1 t smoked Spanish paprika (hot or sweet)

  • ⅓ c of apple cider vinegar (or substitute another mild vinegar)

  • Salt to taste

  • Extra virgin olive oil


  1. Bring about a half gallon of water to a boil with a spoonful of salt.

  2. Wash and peel the carrots, then add to the boiling water

  3. Boil the carrots until they are just tender-- do not overcook! Then drain them and cover in cold water to let them cool.

  4. Mash the garlic and spices in a mortar and pestle until you have a paste.

  5. When the carrots have cooled, cut them into large round slices and put them into your serving bowl.

  6. Add the garlic paste to the carrots and stir and then add equal parts of vinegar and water until the carrots are covered with liquid.

  7. Cover the carrots and allow them to marinate for a minimum of 4 hours in the fridge.

  8. Spoon the out of the liquid with a slotted spoon and serve with high quality olive oil and a pinch of salt.

Churros and Hot Chocolate


  • 8 cups vegetable or olive oil

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 3 eggs

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

Hot Chocolate:
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate

  • 2 cups milk

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 4 tablespoons sugar


  1. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan to 360 degrees F.

  2. To make the churro dough, heat the water, margarine, and salt to a rolling boil in a 3-quart saucepan.

  3. Add the flour and stir vigorously over low heat until mixture forms a ball, approximately 1 minute and remove from heat.

  4. Beat eggs until smooth and add to the saucepan while stirring the mixture.

  5. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a star tip.

  6. Squeeze 4-inch strips of dough into the hot oil. Fry 3 or 4 strips at a time until golden brown, turning once, about 2 minutes on each side.

  7. Drain on paper towels.

  8. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and roll the churros in the sugar mixture.

  9. Set aside until ready to serve.

  10. To prepare the hot chocolate for dipping, place the chocolate and half the milk in a saucepan over very low heat and cook, stirring, until the chocolate has melted.

  11. Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining milk and whisk into the chocolate with the sugar.

  12. Cook on low heat, whisking constantly until the chocolate thickens, approximately 5 minutes. Remove and whisk until smooth.

  13. Pour chocolate into cups and serve with churros.