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December 11, 2001
The most excellent reference librarian has completed serious research on the matter of patron saints of libraries. He states that "there are a number of official and unofficial patron saints in the various forms of Christianity." Pope John Paul II recently declared St Isodore of Spain to be the patron of electronic communication, including the Internet.
For libraries, there are several saintly patrons from which to choose. In the United States of America, St Jerome is considered the proper patron of libraries, whilst in Europe St Lawrence is favored.
In Orthodox countries, St Catherine of Alexandria has been appointed to keep heavenly watch over our august institutions.
Interestingly, many Protestants don't recognise any saints who lived later than the first century, or who aren't mentioned by name in the bible.
However, celestial guardians for libraries are not restricted to Christian religions. In Arabic culture, scrolls were dedicated to the King of the Cockroaches so that lesser bugs wouldn't destroy other documents. In Hindu countries, Ganesh, the elephant headed god of beginnings and remover of obstacles, is the library guardian. As he also invented the Sanscrit alphabet...
So next time you are searching the Internet (thanks to Isodore), and become confused between the roles of Catherine, Lawrence and Jerome, just think of the bun fights that must be going on above our heads. Perhaps the daily chaos of life in the library can be explained after all!