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St. Isidore, schoolmaster of the Middle Ages

St. Isidore of Seville

Feast Day: April 4

Born: c. 560

in Cartagena, Spain

Died: April 4, 636

Claim to fame: Isidore is a doctor of the church, a saint known for his knowledge of the faith and his ability to share that knowledge through his teachings and writings. St. Isidore is called the “Schoolmaster of the Middle Ages” for his incredible contributions to education in sixth-century Spain. But more important than that, Isidore taught that learning was a means of coming closer to God and that education without faith was incomplete.

Little-known fact: Isidore came from a whole family of saints. Two of his brothers, Leander and Fulgentius, and his sister, Florentina, are all honored as saints in Spain.

What made him a saint: Isidore was known as the greatest teacher in Spain during the sixth and seventh centuries – a time when the rest of Europe was sliding into what is known as the Dark Ages. He helped establish seminaries in every diocese of Spain, and he wrote books on grammar, astronomy, geography, history, theology, biography and philosophy – as well as an encyclopedia, The Etymologies, that was used for 900 years. He also helped his brother convert the Visigoths to Christianity.

Best quote: “The man who is slow to grasp things but who really tries hard is rewarded, equally he who does not cultivate his God-given intellectual ability is condemned for despising his gifts and sinning by sloth.”

How he died: Isidore lived for almost 80 years. On his deathbed, he gave all of his possessions to the poor.

Prayer: Because of his great and varied knowledge and his love of learning, St. Isidore has been proposed as the patron saint of the Internet and Internet users. The following prayer can be said before logging on to the Web: Almighty and eternal God, who created us in your image and commanded us to seek after all that is good, true and beautiful, especially in the divine person of your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant that, through the intercession of St. Isidore, bishop and doctor, during our journeys through the Internet we will direct our hands and eyes only to that which is pleasing to you and treat with charity and patience all those souls whom we encounter. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.