A statue of San Isidoro, Source: manuel m.v. on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED)

What’s the common link between Seville’s patron saint day and the Internet?

What’s the common link between Seville’s patron saint day and the Internet?

The Feast of San Isidoro celebrates the general quest for knowledge

The Catholic Church sure has a wide range of saints, who serve as patrons for all activities and professions in life. But who do you pray to when your Internet connection goes down or when you’re hoping to find a free Wi-Fi spot to latch onto while on the road?

It turns out that there’s a saint who takes care of that business, too, and his name is San Isidoro. This Early Medieval Spanish scholar also happens to be the patron saint of the city of Seville, having served as its archbishop in the 7th century.

The date of his death – 4 April – is thus also the patron saint day of the Andalusian capital, which honours his memory and his contribution to humankind.

San Isidoro is considered the inventor of the encyclopedia

And if you’re wondering what his contribution was, well, it’s pretty grand, considering that San Isidoro is now understood to have been the first compiler of an encyclopedia.

His opus magnum is the Etymologiae – a compilation of 20 tomes and 448 chapters, which aimed to get together all the available knowledge in the Ancient World in one spot. Sounds like a lot like the Internet at the origin of conception, doesn’t it?

That first encyclopedia proved to be very popular. It was copied continuously well up to the Renaissance.

Thus, the idea of having a convenient reference source for all things in known existence, which underlies the World Wide Web today, was something that we owe to the brilliant mind of San Isidoro. That's why we celebrate him as the patron saint of the Internet, programmers and students.

And here’s a little thing that might have escaped your attention. San Isidoro feast day – 4 April – is eerily reminiscent of the 404 Error, also known as “page not found”. It’s likely a coincidence but indeed, it’s a good way to remember and honour the death of this ancient scholar.



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