23 Oct: St. Severinus Boethius (Yes, you read that right.)

“A man content to go to heaven alone will never go to heaven” – Boethius

Today is the feast of St. Severinus Boethius (+525), the author of the Consolation of Philosophy.  He was a pivotal figure at the cusp of late Antiquity and what are called the Middle Ages.

Boethius was a member of an ancient Roman family.  Among his accomplishments were translations and commentaries of Aristotle’s works on logic in Latin along with Euclid’s Elements.  He also wrong on arithmetic, geometry, music, and perhaps astronomy and he coined the term quadrivium (four-fold way), the basis of education for centuries, now revived in a way in homeschool circles (thank you, Dorothy Sayers!).

Boethius was an important figure in the court of Theodoric the Ostrogoth.  Theodoric would eventually come to believe that Boethius was conspiring against him and threw him in prison before executing him.  While he was in prison, he composed the astonishingly influention Consolation of Philosophy.

Here is his entry in the Martyrologium Romanum:

6*. Papiae in Liguria, commemoratio sancti Severini Boetii, martyris, qui, scientia ac scriptis praeclarus, in carcere detentus tractatum scripsit de consolatione philosophiae et Deo usque ad mortem a Theodorico rege inflictam cum integritate servivit.

Who wants to take a crack at the Latin?

Take note that the entry calls him “Saint” Boethius.  So does the official Vatican Curia’s calendar.  He is celebrated as a saint in Pavia.

You may be interested to know that Boethius’ tomb is in the crypt of the same church where St. Augustine’s remains are interred:  San Pietro in Ciel d’oro in Pavia, south of Milan.

Here is Lady Philophy explaining God to Boethius in the guise of 15th c. France.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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7 Comments

  1. Dave P. says:

    I can never think of Boethius without also thinking of Ignatius J. Reilly…

  2. robtbrown says:

    Dave P,

    Confederacy of Dunces?

  3. Dave P. says:

    robtbrown:

    That’s the one.

  4. Papiae in Liguria, commemoratio sancti Severini Boetii, martyris, qui, scientia ac scriptis praeclarus, in carcere detentus tractatum scripsit de consolatione philosophiae et Deo usque ad mortem a Theodorico rege inflictam cum integritate servivit.

    At Pavia in Liguria, the commemoration of St. Severinus Boethius, martyr, illustrious in learning and literary works, who wrote the treatise The Consolation of Philosophy while held in prison, and served God with integrity even to his death imposed by Theodoric the king.

  5. Gregg the Obscure says:

    heh. had i more energy and the ability to pull off the appropriate accent, i’d start a podcast “the Ignatius Reilly factor” giving his take on issues of the day . . . and Myra Minkoff

  6. Mark F. says:

    Here is my attempt at translating the Martyrology entry.

    At Papia in Liguria, the commemoration of Saint Severinus Boethius the martyr. Distinguished in science and letters, while in prison he wrote a tract on the consolation of philosophy. He served God with integrity until King Theodoric had him executed.

  7. jme493 says:

    I have a copy of the Roman Martyrology in English which states on its title page that it includes all saints and blessed approved up to 1961, however it does not have the entry for Boethius on October 23rd. I searched the index and Severinus Boethius is not included anywhere. Does anyone know why that would be?

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