St. Isidore of Seville: Patron Saint of the Internet

We honor Saint Isidore of Seville, philomath and hoarder of data.

Today is All Saints' Day, a Christian festival celebrated in honor of all saints, known and unknown. We decided to find out which saint we could ask to intercede on our behalf the next time the internet goes down or an especially cruel internet troll ruins a conversation. There’s a saint for that! Pope John Paul II named Isidore of Seville the patron saint of the internet in 1997.

Isidore, who lived from 560-636, served as the Archbishop of Seville for over 30 years. His brother and his sister were also made saints. He was canonized in 1598, and in 1722 he was named a Doctor of the Church. He is most known for his work compiling the 20 volume Etymologiae. This was his attempt at putting all knowledge in one place. In other words, the first Google. Although it was not published until after his death, the Etymologiae was in use for almost a thousand years.

Because of his love for all things data, Saint Isidore is our patron saint of the internet. He was devoted to learning and discerning truth throughout his life. But like the internet, Saint Isidore didn’t always provide the most accurate search results; in one instance he even compared pagans to monkeys.

Overall, he emphasized the need for reading: “When we pray we talk to God, when we read, God talks to us.” Possessing information is not the same as knowing what to do with information, and it was important to Isidore to make that distinction. Isidore explained how his faith life informed and was informed by his search for knowledge in this way:

> All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection. By reading we learn what we did not know; by reflection we retain what we have learned. The conscientious reader will be more concerned to carry out what he has read than merely to acquire knowledge of it. In reading we aim at knowing, but we must put into practice what we have learned in our course of study.

The internet has opened the world up to us for better or worse. It is easy to become overwhelmed and distanced from our God-given purpose to be a light. Isidore serves as a reminder that we must apply all of this knowledge to become better informed, and through that knowledge, know Christ better as well.

Reality Changing Observations:

Q1. In addition to the Bible, what do you read to be close to God?

Q2. How does your internet activity represent your spirituality?

Q3. How has the internet made it easier for you to practice your role as a cocreator with God?

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