636: Is there a Patron Saint of the Internet?

636: Is there a Patron Saint of the Internet?
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ Braulio of Zaragoza and Isidore of Seville

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 4 April 636
  • It was suggested that St. Isidore of Seville be declared patron saint of the Internet, which would be appropriate due to his efforts to compile all the information available at that time in one place. Namely, it is interesting that he draw information for his famous encyclopedia both from Christian and non-Christian sources.

On this day the famous Saint Isidore of Seville died. He was extremely important for European education, because he made one of the first encyclopedias in world history. 

In fact, in his work “Etymologiae” he compiled a large part of the knowledge available to Europeans in the seventh century. There are as many as 448 chapters in the work, divided into 20 volumes. During the Middle Ages, this encyclopedia of St. Isidore became extremely important because it was among the most popular handbooks in medieval libraries. It was also often copied in later works.

In his encyclopedia, St. Isidore (who lived in the seventh century) collected many fragments from the works of ancient authors from cultural spheres of Greece and Rome. In the Middle Ages, “Etymologiae” was important because the original texts of the ancient authors largely disappeared from general use, so it was only through the works of St. Isidore that these data could be found.

It is a very interesting fact concerning St. Isidore that all his brothers and one of his sisters became Catholic saints. Namely, his older brother was called St. Leander of Seville, younger brother St. Fulgentius of Cartagena, and his sister St. Florentina. So, three brothers and a sister from that family became saints.

St. Isidore was the Archbishop of Seville, a city in present-day Spain. He was roughly a contemporary of Muhammad, founder of Islam. Of course, the Muslim invaders conquered much of the Iberian peninsula, but only about 70 years after the death of St. Isidore. In the time of this saint, the territory of present-day Spain was still ruled by Visigoths, descendants of immigrated Germanic tribes.

Because of his contribution to the networking of the overall human knowledge at that time (St. Isidore drew information from Christian and non-Christian sources, from a total of 154 different authors) it was proposed that he be declared the patron saint of the Internet. It really does not seem like a bad initiative considering the saint’s efforts to compile all the information available at that time in one place.

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