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Patron of the Day: Saint Isidore, author of the first encyclopedia

Patron of the Day: Saint Isidore, author of the first encyclopedia

The most outstanding teacher of faith in Spain, author of the first encyclopedia - writes Fr. Arkadiusz Nocoń in a column for the portal and Vatican Radio. On April 4, we remember Saint. Isidore (ca. 560 - 636), bishop and doctor of the Church. He was canonized by Pope Clement VIII in 1598. He became a Doctor of the Church by the decision of Innocent XIII. His relics are in Leon, Spain. He is the patron saint of Spain, Internet users, IT specialists and programmers.

Saint Isidore was born into a very religious family in Cartagena (Spain). Two of his brothers became bishops and his sister became the superior of the monastery (all of them would eventually be declared saints). Orphaned at an early age, Isidore was raised by his brother Leander, Bishop of Seville. Under his supervision, using the rich church library, he acquired a thorough education.

After his brother's death, he succeeded him as a bishop and became known as a zealous shepherd: he converted the Visigoths, organized synods, founded monastic houses and shelters for the poor, over time gaining the reputation of the most outstanding teacher of faith in Spain. Aware of the importance of knowledge and education, he tried to create a library and a cathedral school in every Spanish diocese, where, in addition to theology, law, medicine and literature would also be taught. He was a great book lover himself. He saw it as a tool for getting to know God and the world he created. Therefore, he constantly encouraged his faithful to read.

From the books of Saint Isidore's "Sentences": "Whoever wants to be always with God should pray and read often. For when we pray, we talk to God himself, and when we read, God talks to us. All progress begins in reading and meditation. What we do not know, we learn from reading, and what we have learned, we remember through meditation. Reading holy books has a double benefit: it develops the mind's ability to understand, and it turns a person away from the vanities of the world and leads to love God." (3, 8-10)

Legend has it that as a child, Izydor had problems with learning. One day, despairing that he could not master the assigned material, he ran out of town, sat by a well and wept bitterly. At one point, a woman came to fetch water and, while dragging a bucket, complained about the grooves in the cylinder and the stones that were full of holes from falling drops. "If a rope can carve out hard wood and soft water can crush a stone, why shouldn't I, with God's help, acquire knowledge" - thought Isidore. He gained it quickly and how! It was said that he was equal to Plato's flair, Aristotle's knowledge, eloquence - Cicero, and science - to Saint Augustine. Indeed, he was one of the most learned men of his time, and his main work, the 20-volume "Etymology", is considered the first encyclopedia in the world, because it contains a synthesis of all contemporary knowledge. For this reason, as the creator of the first database in history, he was chosen by Spanish Internet users as the patron saint of the Internet.

Izydor was also an ardent patriot. Out of love for his homeland, he wrote the first history of Spain. Someone said that Providence called him to restore Spain's lost splendor after the period of barbarian invasions, and to ensure that its children would not be lost to ignorance and backwardness after so many disasters it had suffered.

Destroyed by his growing illness, Izydor spent the last months of his life in prayer. Sensing his approaching death, he ordered him to be carried to the cathedral, where, in the presence of the priests and the people, he took off his episcopal robes, put on sackcloth, sprinkled ashes on his head and made a public confession with tears. He begged to be forgiven for his sins and to pray for him. After receiving the Viaticum, he said goodbye to everyone with the kiss of peace. Carried to his cell, he died three days later, on April 4, 636. To this day, he is considered the most outstanding bishop that Spain has produced.

Fr. Arkadiusz Nocoń/