Patron Saint for the Internet, Isidore of Seville (4th April 2017)
In 1997, Pope John Paul II decided that the internet could use a patron saint to guide Catholics in its proper use. He chose Saint Isidore of Seville (560-636), Doctor of the Church, and last of the Latin Fathers. His twenty-book opus (called Etymologia, after the subject title of one of the books), made him an easy choice. The word “etymology” was Isidore’s own coinage. It means “the study of origins.” Today, the term is limited to the history, or origin, of words. Interestingly enough, three other words that I know of owe their invention to saints: “utopia” and “integrity” to Saint Thomas More and “soliloquy” to Saint Augustine.
In his article on the saint in the Catholic Encyclopedia, J. B. O’Connor lists the twenty books and each one’s proper object of study:
- The first three of these books are taken up with the trivium and quadrivium. The entire first book is devoted to grammar, including metre. Imitating the example of Cassiodorus and Boethius he preserves the logical tradition of the schools by reserving the second book for rhetoric and dialectic.
- Book four, treats of medicine and libraries;
- Book five, of law and chronology;
- Book six, of ecclesiastical books and offices;
- Book seven, of God and of the heavenly and earthly hierarchies;
- Book eight, of the Church and of the sects, of which latter he numbers no less than sixty-eight;
- Book nine, of languages, peoples, kingdoms, and official titles;
- Book ten, of etymology:
- Book eleven, of man;
- Book twelve, of beasts and birds;
- Book thirteen, of the world and its parts;
- Book fourteen, of physical geography;
- Book fifteen, of public buildings and roadmaking;
- Book sixteen, of stones and metals;
- Book seventeen, of agriculture;
- Book eighteen, of the terminology of war, of jurisprudence, and public games;
- Book nineteen, of ships, houses, and clothes;
- Book twenty, of victuals, domestic and agricultural tools, and furniture.
Here is a prayer to Saint Isidore that should be said before logging in on the internet:
Almighty and eternal God, who created us in Thy image and bade us to seek after all that is good, true and beautiful, especially in the divine person of Thy only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that, through the intercession of Saint Isidore, bishop and doctor, during our journeys through the internet we will direct our hands and eyes only to that which is pleasing to Thee and treat with charity and patience all those souls whom we encounter. Through Christ our Lord. Amen