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The Patron Saint of the Internet

The Catholic Church has a patron Saint for almost everything, and in many cases, several for the same thing. One useful website classifies them by the specific field of human endeavor they watch over, from accountants to yachtsman, in over 700 different categories. 

However, despite the internet being everywhere in modern life, the Church has yet to assign an official patron Saint of the internet.

St. Isidore, the unofficial patron saint of the internet

In the meantime, Catholics who make frequent use of the internet have granted the title informally to a Spaniard called Isidore, who was born ca. 560 A.D., and died in 636. He served for about 35 years as archbishop of Seville. 

St. Isidore’s holy siblings

Incidentally, his brother Leander had been the archbishop of Seville before Isidore. Another brother, Fulgentius, was bishop of Écija (then called ‘Astigi’ in Latin), about 50 miles to the east-northeast of Seville. Their sister Florentia was a nun. 

Today, all four siblings are venerated as Saints.

So why is Isidore the patron saint of the internet?

Isidore’s work, the Etymologies, was hugely influential in the Middle Ages. Its twenty books form a kind of general encyclopedia, covering: 

  • the classic late antique trivium and quadrivium (grammar and rhetoric, mathematics etc.)
  • medicine
  • Law
  • various aspects of the Church
  • men
  • Animals
  • all the different parts of the material world. 
  • The book is called “Etymologies” since most of the entries give the putative origin and meaning of the names of things, in the fanciful manner typical of the ancient world. For example, in the very first paragraph, he derives the word “disciplina” from “discitur plena – it is fully learned.”

The ancient Roman world generally valued originality far less than we do, and a good portion of the Etymologies is borrowed from other writers, including three whole books mostly taken from Pliny the Elder’s Natural History

To some degree, this is what has given the work an historical importance that lasts to our own time, since it preserves a great deal of material from writers whose works are otherwise lost to us. For example, an encyclopedia called the Prata (meadows) by Suetonius is known to us only from the citations of it preserved by Isidore. 

In other words, much like a large portion of the internet, it is essentially a digest, and useful in the same way, but not as a long-term substitute for in-depth investigation of any given topic. The circumstances of Isidore’s time, the early centuries after the disintegration of the Roman Empire, were such that it could hardly be otherwise, whereas we, of course, have far more and better tools for research at our disposal than he could have dreamed of.

The influence of the Etymologies may be gauged from the fact that nearly 1000 manuscript copies of it survive, and that it was one of the first books to be printed after the invention of movable type. 

However, like many of the specific etymologies, much of the scientific knowledge which it seeks to impart is speculative at best, and often merely imaginary, a problem which permeates all the science of the ancient world. As the empirical and observation-based science born in the medieval universities of Europe flourished in the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery, St Isidore’s work was inevitably eclipsed. Nonetheless, for the sake of his theological writings, and his essential contribution to the transmission of knowledge within the limits of his era, he was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1722.

This post was originally published on April 4, 2022.

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Dr. Nancy Llewellyn

Co-Founder, Veterum Sapientia Institute
Magistra - Introductory Latin

Magistra Annula is Associate Professor of Latin at Belmont Abbey College, coming to North Carolina after a decade at Wyoming Catholic College. She teaches Latin at the Charlotte Diocese’s new St. Joseph College Seminary in addition to her work at Belmont. Earlier in her career she studied with Fr. Reginald Foster and at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome. Returning to her native California, Nancy founded SALVI in 1997 and served on its board until 2019, directing SALVI workshops (Rusticationes) around the country and abroad. She holds her PhD (2006) from UCLA.

Fr. Dylan Schrader, PhD

Magister - Scholastic Theology

Pater Pelagius is a priest of the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri, ordained in 2010. He holds a PhD in systematic theology from the Catholic University of America and is the translator of several Scholastic works, including On the Motive of the Incarnation, the first volume in CUA’s Early Modern Catholic Sources series, and Book 2 of Thomas Aquinas’s Commentary on the Sentences, edited by the Aquinas Institute for the Study of Sacred Doctrine. Fr. Schrader is the author of The Shortcut to Scholastic Latin, published by the Paideia Institute Press. He has attended every Veterum Sapientia conference since its inception.

Mr. Christopher Owens, STM

Chief Executive Officer

Christopher Owens completed licentiate studies at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (“the Angelicum”) with a concentration in Thomism, and is a doctoral candidate at the same university. His research investigates the question of predestination in the writings of the early Thomists. More generally, Christopher’s research interests in both philosophy and theology are focused on the preambles of faith, ontology, meta-ethics, and action theory as found principally in the Thomistic tradition, as well as in the medieval dialectic of the University of Paris. Additionally, Christopher serves on the editorial board for Philosophical News, the official journal of the European Society for Moral Philosophy, and is vice-president of the Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies, based in Norcia, Italy.

Fr. Joseph Matlak


Fr. Joseph Matlak is a priest of the Eparchy of Saint Josaphat in Parma (Ukrainian Greek-Catholic). Born in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, England, he studied Ancient History at King’s College London, and completed seminary studies and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the Catholic University of America, Washington DC. He is currently finishing a doctorate at the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge, England. He serves as administrator of Saint Basil the Great Parish in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is an instructor within the Honors College of Belmont Abbey College. He has previously worked in parishes and missions, schools, youth and young adult ministry, liturgical music, and Catholic media, among other roles.

Magister Marcus Porto

Magister - Introductory Latin

Magister Marcus holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Thomas Aquinas College and a Latin Fluency Certificate from Academia Vivarium Novum, where he learned to speak Latin under Luigi Miraglia. He is currently a graduate student at Kentucky University, studying Latin under Terence Tunberg and Milena Minkova, and works as a classical languages’ instructor, Liberal Arts teacher, and editor at Instituto Hugo de São Vitor, Brazil.

Dr. Samuel Stahl


Samuel Stahl earned a PhD in Classics at the State University of New York at Buffalo. His dissertation is an annotated verse translation from Claudian’s carmina minora; his passions, both personal and professional, include Christian poetry and ecumenism. In addition to his work with VSI, he teaches ELA at a Catholic grammar school in Western New York, where he lives with his wife and two cats.

Magister Tod Post, MA


Mr. Post holds a B.A. in philosophy from St. John’s Seminary College in Camarillo, CA and an M.A. in Medieval Studies from the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. His areas of study and interest include codicology and palaeography and creating medieval and classical inks and writing materials. He particularly enjoys working in his garden surrounded by plants from the classical world such as papyrus, acanthus, figs, olives and grapes which also gives him an opportunity to practice his botanical Latin. He is a lifelong resident of southern California where he has been teaching and promoting Latin since 2004 and where he resides with his wife and six children.

Kit Adderley


Kit Adderley became interested in Ancient Rome at a young age, and following a particularly interesting and formative Roman History class in high school, decided to study Classics at Franciscan University of Steubenville. While studying and in subsequent years, Kit was blessed to attend many spoken Latin programs both in the United States and in Rome. Kit has taught Latin for 10 years at the high school and middle school level in Texas and Minnesota, most recently designing and implementing a spoken Latin program for high school that enjoyed tremendous success. Kit currently works in the finance industry but continues to love Latin and the classical world and is excited to work with Veterum Sapientia in bringing that knowledge to others.

Matthew Ratcliff

Coordinator for Marketing and Course Development

Matthew Ratcliff is a graduate from Belmont Abbey College, where he fell in love with Latin while studying under Nancy Llewellyn and Gregory DiPippo, and where he encountered the natural method for the first time. He has previously taught for Aquinas Learning Center in Charlotte for the 2023-2024 academic year. Matthew firmly believes that everyone can learn Latin well. He loves incorporating physical movement in the classroom and is excited to share the joy of the language with every class!

Magister Gregory DiPippo

Director of Academic Development, Assistant to the Dean, Magister - Introductory Latin

Magister Gregorius was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, where he attended a high school which offered an excellent Latin program. He attended McGill University in Montreal, where he studied Classical Languages and Literature, and the Augustinian Patristic Institute in Rome, where he studied the Fathers of the Church. For 23 years, he worked as a tour guide in Rome, and for the last 15 years, he has been a regular contributor (and for 10 years editor) to the New Liturgical Movement website.

Andrea Allen


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