23 October – St. Severinus Boethius: “A man content to go to heaven alone will never go to heaven.”

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

What have you done, lately, to help someone get to Heaven?

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 wrote 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 influential 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 Philosophy explaining God to Boethius in the guise of 15th c. France.

It’s too bad that hats are not more in style these days.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    I would like to point out that at LibriVox, some crazy man has recorded the whole of the Consolatio in Latin, with a lovely ecclesiastical pronunciation:


    I say “crazy man” because, on the subject of St. Augustine, he also recorded both the “Confessiones” and the whole of “De Civitate Dei” in Latin. More proof that the internet can be used to accomplish great deeds.

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  3. gdweber says:

    “Papiae in Liguria, commemoratio sancti Severini Boetii ….” —Hoc conabor:

    At Pavia in Liguria, the commemoration of the holy (saint) Severinus Boethius, martyr, who, exceedingly distinguished in knowledge and letters (writing), while detained in prison wrote the treatise on the consolation of philosophy, and served God with integrity until his death inflicted by King Theodoric.

  4. gdweber says:

    TheCavalierHatherly: Magnificent Madness! Thanks for pointing this out!

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  6. Liam says:

    I am very happy to say that my professed name in the Third Order of the Society of Saint Pius X is Br. Mary Boethius.

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