Catholic News Herald

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St. Isidore is the patron saint of the Internet and the author of the first encyclopedia ever written, called "Etymologiae." In 20 volumes, St. Isidore compiled all of the learning of his day. Throughout the greater part of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, it was the textbook most used in schools.

St. Isidore was born in Cartagena, Spain, around the year 560 and succeeded his older brother as the archbishop of Seville. He was a prolific writer on the Scriptures and theology, as well as on the knowledge of his day in the fields of physics, astronomy, history and geography. He also wrote a dictionary of synonyms.

During his episcopate, the classic learning institutions of the Roman Empire were being destroyed by the barbarous Goths, who were in power in Spain. In an effort to counter this, St. Isidore encouraged education and the study of law, medicine and the liberal arts. He eradicated Arianism and other heresies and reinforced religious discipline.

At the Second Council of Seville, begun Nov. 13, 619, St. Isidore persuaded all bishops to establish seminaries in cathedral cities, making education an obligation for all bishops.

He also had great admiration for monks and wrote a book called "Regula monachorum" on the monastic life, though he wasn't a monk himself. In it, he said religious life is proof of true Christian democracy by admitting men of every rank and station of life.

"God has made no difference between the soul of the slave and that of the freedman," he wrote. In the monastery, he said, all are equal in the sight of God and of the Church.

St. Isidore was the last of the ancient Christian philosophers and great Latin Fathers. He died April 4, 636, and his feast is celebrated each April 4.

— Source: Catholic News Agency