St. Isidore of Seville
Born: 560 in Cartagena, Spain
Died: April 4, 636 in Seville
Canonized: 1598 by Pope Clement VIII
Feast Day: April 4
Patronage: The Internet, computer technicians, programmers and students
While he lived some 1400 years ago during a time when there was no such thing as electricity – never mind computers – nevertheless, in 1997, St. Isidore of Seville was declared by St. John Paul II as the patron saint of the Internet. 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.”
Published after his death in 636, it was for a thousand years considered the encyclopedia of all human knowledge. Written in simple Latin, it was all a man needed in order to have access to everything he wanted to know about the world but never dared to ask, from the 28 types of common nouns to the names of women’s outer garments. It was a tool used by those seeking wisdom much like the Internet is used now. 
As Bishop of Seville, Isidore accomplished great honors for himself through the office entrusted to his care within the Church, but as far as I’m concerned, the greatest lesson he ever left us was the example with which he lived the last six months of his life here on earth.
Through some type of grace, he was able to perceive that his end was drawing near. And so he began to increase his acts of charity to an unprecedented level. Word concerning his charity spread like wildfire! They say that the poor of the entire country began to crowd all around his house from morning till night in order to receive something, anything from him. He then called upon two bishops to accompany him to the Church. He had one of these bishops cover him with sackcloth while the other was told to put ashes on his head. Clothed with the habit of penance, he stretched out both of his hands towards heaven and prayed with great devotion and tenderness.
He begged out loud for the forgiveness of his sins – he forgave the debts of all those who owed him any money – he then went on to order that all the money that he had yet to give away be distributed among the poor. With a clear conscience, he then received from the hands of the bishops the Body and Blood of our Lord, after which he returned to his own home at peace with himself and the world. He calmly departed for the Kingdom four days later, which was today, the 4th of April, in the year 636.
In what I call Isidore’s greatest doctoral work on earth, we have someone who embodied within himself the teachings of Christ to a level of complete trust and total abandonment. As we all know, throughout the course of His earthly life, Jesus said many things and He proclaimed many words. Words like:
- “Give to everyone who asks of you…”
- “Forgive those who trespass against you…”
- “When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
And without a doubt the most shocking words ever spoken before men: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day…”
Through the example of St. Isidore, we are shown what it means to believe the Word made flesh. We are shown what it means to embody belief in the Son of Man. Should the life we are living today come to an end – like the life of St. Isidore did this day back in 636 – could and would the Pope at the helm of St. Peter’s barque name us ‘Patron Saint’ of something that has yet to come into existence due to the unique way in which we are choosing to embody belief in the living words of our resurrected Lord and Savior?
It’s a thought worth contemplating throughout this month…
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.
Peace, Fr. Jerome