Search This Blog

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Saint Jerome


Jerome was born at the little village of Stridon to Christian parents around 347 AD. The exact location of Stridon is unknown, but was believed to be either in modern Croatia or Slovenia.

Jerome was not baptized until sometime during the first half of the 360s., when he had gone to Rome with his friend Bonosus to pursue rhetorical and philosophical studies.

Ar Rome, Jerome spent 8 years studying under Aelius Donatus, a skilful compiler of language techniques which Donatus called "grammar." Jerome also learned Greek, but had no thought at that time of studying the Greek Fathers, or any Christian writings.

Accompanied by some Christian friends, the scholarly Jerome set out about 373 on a journey through Thrace and Asia Minor into northern Syria. At Antioch, where he made the longest stay, two of his companions died and he himself was seriously ill more than once.

During one of these illnesses in the winter of 373 - 374, Jerome had a vision which determined him to lay aside his secular studies and devote himself to the things of God. He abstained for a considerable time from the study of the classics and plunged deeply into that of the Bible.

In 375 Jerome began a search for inner peace as a hermit in the desert. For three years he lived among the desert hermits in the wilds near Antioch, Syria in a hole in the sand.

Saint Jerome in the Wilderness by Bernardino Pinturicchio

In the desert, Jerome made his first attempt to learn Hebrew under the guidance of a converted Jew; and he seems to have been in correspondence with Jewish Christians in Antioch.

A gourmet with a weak stomach, Jerome ate the sparse desert food as a penance. He later wrote "Many years ago I had for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven cut myself off from home, parents, sister, relations and (hardest of all) from the dainty food to which I had become accustomed."

Jerome returned to Rome for a time and was secretary to Pope Damascus from 382 to 385. Later, he moved to Bethlehem and settled in a hermit's cell which one of his followers Paula had built for him.

According to legend, Jerome had a pet lion, a constant companion after the saint drew a thorn from its paw,

He kept with him at Bethlehem a human skull, in order to remind him of how swiftly human life passes.

Jerome's simple home in Bethlehem has been preserved, and is visited today by many pilgrims.


Jerome confessed in his writings to being tormented by visions of wanton women and of Roman dancing girls in particular.

Jerome would not have been able to survive without the patronage of a circle of well-born and well-educated women, including some from the noblest patrician families, such as the widows Marcella and Paula, with their daughters Blaesilla and Eustochium.

Due to the time he spent in Rome among wealthy families belonging to the Roman upper-class, Jerome was frequently commissioned by women who had taken a vow of virginity to write them in guidance of how to live their life.

False rumors were spread about his relationship with the Patrician ladies. Jerome was forced  to leave his position at Rome after an inquiry was brought up by the Roman clergy into allegations that he had an improper relationship with the widow Paula.


Whilst studying at Rome, Jerome began to build up an extensive personal library of the classics.

Jerome was amply provided by Paula with the means of livelihood and of increasing his collection of books, Jerome led a life of incessant activity in literary production.

In 405, Jerome completed the most important of his works; a version of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew text, Prior to Jerome's Vulgate, all Latin translations of the Old Testament had been based on the Septuagint not the Hebrew.

Jerome's decision to use a Hebrew text instead of the previous translated Septuagint resulted in howls of protest from many other Christians, including Augustine of Hippo, who thought the Septuagint inspired. Only a few friends appreciated what he had done.

His Vulgate Bible became the standard Bible of the western world throughout the Middle Ages and the basis for many translations.

Other theological works include a number of commentaries on Scripture, using the original Hebrew rather than suspect translations and the dialogue against the Pelagians, the literary perfection of which even an opponent recognized.


Jerome died near Bethlehem on September 30, 420.  His remains, originally buried at Bethlehem, were later said to have been transferred to the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, though other places in the West claim some relics.

Jerome's feast day is September 30th. He is recognized as the patron saint of translators, librarians and encyclopedists.

In art, Jerome is often represented as one of the four Latin doctors of the Church along with Augustine, Ambrose, and Pope Gregory I.

Source Food For Thought by Ed Pearce

No comments:

Post a Comment