Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Feast of St Isidore of Seville

St Idisore of Seville, from the beautiful twelfth-century Aberdeen Bestiary.

St Isidore was a remarkable scholar. Last of the Romans, first of the medievals, his Etymologies, a kind of encyclopedia, was one of the most copied and consulted of the Middle Ages. He was also the first great historian of medieval Spain.

For some time now, I have heard that Isidore, because of his encyclopedic knowledge was considered the "unofficial" patron saint of computers and the internet. A slight bout of googling has not resolved the question of how official that patronage is. This article from five years ago suggests that Pope John Paul I was considering naming him as patron. This site lists him as patron, this site says he was made patron in 1999, and this site claims it happened in 2002. Does anyone know? Is there an official list somewhere online?

It is not unusual for saints to be patrons of technological advancements. St Clare was named patron of television by Pius XII in 1958, because she had clairvoyent experiences -- she saw and heard things that were happening in other places. Poor St Clare! In 1958 no one could have foreseen the coming of Jerry Springer and "Wife Swap."

Whether or not St Isidore is officially patron of the internet or not, he is a great saint, and this prayer, in both Latin and English, is to be prayed to St Isidore before connecting to the web.


Sandalstraps said...

That was very interesting. Sorry, I have nothing to add to it.

crystal said...

Liam, have you seen this hagiography site? It's pretty nice - maybe they have soeme info on Isidore ....

crystal said...

Oops! here it is again ... I don't think it all got copied above.

Liam said...

That's from a great medieval reference site, and it's compiled by Tom Head, who's written a lot on hagiography. Unfortunately, I don't see anything that would give us contemporary offical information on saints. Maybe I should check the Vatican site.