Lanternarius Press

St. Jerome

SEPTEMBER 30 is the traditional memorial of ST. JEROME who died this day in 420 AD.

Born March 27, 347 AD, Jerome’s whole name was Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus. He was born and grew up a pagan in the area which has become Slovenia. As a young teen, Jerome and his friend, Bonosus, moved to Rome for their education. Apparently, this education included the loose moral behavior of the recently Christianized world. However, by his late teens, Jerome had come to understand Christianity and was baptized. He studied the Greek classics and Latin.

After a few years, Jerome and Bonosus traveled to Gaul and settled for a while in Trier. Here, he got a position copying for Rufinus, a friend, Hilary of Poitiers' commentary on the Psalms and the treatise De synodis. Then he moved to be with Rufinus in northern Italy, where he made many Christian friends.

With these friends, he went on a trip to Asia Minor, settling for a while in Antioch. He and several of the friends got seriously ill, two even dying. At this point, Jerome gave up the classics for a deep study of the Bible. After beginning to get a grasp of the Bible, Jerome moved to a hermit community outside of Antioch where he stayed for some time, writing and reading. It was at this time that he began to learn Hebrew.

In his mid 30s Jerome was ordained by Paulinus, bishop of Antioch, after which he moved to Constantinople to study Scripture under Gregory Nanzianzen. He accompanied Paulinus to Rome for the synod in 382. Having distinguished himself in the synod, Jerome was offered a position with Pope Damascus I. This became a revision of the Latin Bible, based on Greek manuscripts still available at the time. Years later, this translation became known as the Latin Vulgate.

In August 385, after the death of Pope Damascus, Jerome, and a number of women supporters, left Rome to tour the Holy Land and Egypt. He eventually settled in Bethlehem, in the cave where, supposedly, Jesus was born. His women followers, who had much money but did not want to live the culture of spoiled Romans, supplied his needs and encouraged his work.

Jerome’s writings were extensive: his version of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew text, instead of the Hellenized Septuagint; scriptural commentaries, and the dialogue against the Pelagians, the literary perfection of which even an opponent recognized. To this period also belong most of his polemics, which distinguished him among the orthodox Fathers, including the treatises against the Origenism later declared anathema, of Bishop John II of Jerusalem and his early friend Rufinus.

He was also known as a historian, despite his occasional mistakes, in his Chronicles. Of importance, also is his catalogue of Christian authors.

St Jerome is the patron of translators, archivists, archeologists, librarians and students.

“If the apostles and martyrs while still living upon earth can pray for others, how much more may they do it after their victories? Have they less power now that they are with Jesus Christ?”

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