Died: Apr. 4th, 636
FEast: Apr. 4th
The Internet, computers, programmers, students
Isidore was born in Cartagena, Spain, around the year 560. His older siblings Leander, Fulgentius, and Florentina were all in religious life and became saints, as well! His brother Leander was bishop of Seville, and took over teaching Isidore as he grew up. Leander, however, did not seem to have much patience with his younger brother, and punished him more severely than the other young men that he taught.
Isidore, embarrassed and frustrated by this, ran away from Seville. He felt rejected, and that he could not live up to the expectations held for him because of the reputations of his older siblings. While away, he noticed water dripping steadily on a rock, and how, though each drop seemed to not have much force or effect, there were holes bored into the rock from other streams that had dripped continuously over time. He realized that this was how he could learn - and eventually, one day, all of the hard work would have its effect.
He returned and Leander was so angry that he locked Isidore away until he finished his studies.
Some form of reconciliation must have occurred between brothers as Isidore aged, since the two began to work together as adults, confronting the major problem in their area of Spain at the time, which was the beliefs that the Visigoths (who had invaded years before) held that Jesus had not been God.
When Leander passed away, Isidore became the new Bishop of Seville and continued this work, reuniting the people of Spain so that it could once again be a center of learning, diversity, and culture. Isidore was able to do this so well that other European countries experiencing similar divisions looked to his ways to apply to their own communities.
One of the ways Isidore did this was by preserving knowledge from the past. He wrote histories of the Visigoths, of Christianity, and even of the whole world. He preserved classic Roman and Greek literature that had been slowly disappearing. He also wrote an encyclopedia that was used as a common textbook for nine centuries, as well as books on the subjects of grammar, astronomy, and geography.
In addition, Isidore made education as mandatory as possible and highly encouraged sharing ideas between cultures to create more overall enlightenment. He made sure that a seminary was built in every diocese (and that the arts and medicine would be taught at each in addition to typical courses) and encouraged the studies of language, law, and philosophy.
These changes he made to his society were so important. Illiteracy had been incredibly widespread before his leadership, and the different cultures clashed rather than worked together due to lack of understanding and fear. Isidore was able to change this and establish so much knowledge that he is now known as patron saint of a similar idea - the internet.
Isidore lived to about 80 years old, and in the last years of his life, he was constantly feeding and giving aid to the people in need that crowded his house at all hours.
He was canonized and later named a Doctor of the Church, proving that his slow, steady learning really had made an effect.
Living up to expectations or the legacy of others can be frustrating, unfair, and detrimental. Show us how determination, patience, and choosing our own path is the only way to be true to ourselves and achieve. Show us how to use the tools and gifts we are given to bring goodness and love to the world. Allow us to forgive those who expected otherwise.
Isidore's strong identity as both student and educator are apparent in both the pencil behind his ear as well as his backpack straps. The walking stick comes from not only a symbol for his bishop's staff, but also a personal detail for the son of the person who commissioned this portrait. She described that he uses walking sticks on adventures, and I loved that as a symbol for Isidore, venturing into unknown, wild territory and needing a little support.