Saint Jerome was a Latin priest, historian and theologian born between 342–347 AD in Stridon on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia (now the town could be in Croatia or Slovenia). He died on September 30 420 in Bethlehem, Palestine at the age of between 73–78 years. His feast day is celebrated on September 30 in the Catholic Church.
|Saint Jerome Biography|
|Date of Birth||Between 342–347 AD|
|Place of Birth||Stridon on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia|
|Profession||Priest, Translator, historian and theologian|
|Place of Work||Bethlehem and Rome|
|Date of Death||September 30 420 AD|
|Place of Death||Bethlehem, Palestine|
|St. Jerome Feast Day||September 30|
|Patron Saint of||
St Jerome Life History
St Jerome was taught Latin and Greek grammar by Aelius Donatus. As a student, he lived an immoral life but now and again guilt and remorse could engulf him and would do penance and atone for his sins by visiting the catacombs of the Apostles and martyrs in Rome every Sunday and imagine himself in hell. He did this even though he was not a Christian.
St Jerome was in his early years of life very skeptical of Christianity but after traveling to Rome when he was about 12 years to study philosophy, rhetoric, and grammar, he started to appreciate what Christianity had to offer.
In Rome he met a friend called Bonosus who began to encourage him to convert to Christianity and around 366 AD, Jerome was baptized by Pope Liberius and became a Christian.
Jerome, Bonosus, and other Christian friends traveled around Syria and Asia minor. During these travels, Jerome and Bonosus fell out and they went on separate ways. Jerome and some of his friends journeyed towards Antioch.
In Antioch, they all fell ill and some of his friends died. Jerome received a vision around 374 AD that led him to drop studying secular courses and concentrated on devotion to God. He studied the Bible, under Apollinaris of Laodicea.
St Jerome took to the desert of Chalcis in Antioch and successfully made an attempt to translate the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew into Greek.
After returning to Antioch around 378-379 AD, reluctantly, St Jerome was ordained as a priest by Bishop Paulinus. Jerome did not want to be a priest, he wanted to remain a free monk but the Bishop and Pope Damasus insisted that he must be ordained as a priest. Jerome requested that he be exempted from serving in a ministry and his request was granted under one condition that he continued embracing his current pious life.
After this Jerome went to Constantinople and studied the scripture under St Gregory Nazianzen. In 382, after two years in Constantinople, Jerome left for Rome for three years (382–385) where he was the secretary to Pope Damasus I.
While in Rome, Jerome began a revision and translation of the Latin Bible based on the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Based on the Septuagint, he updated the Psalter containing the Book of Psalms.
In Rome, Jerome continued to promote the ideal of asceticism to people around him. Among the people who were attracted to Jerome’s asceticism was a group of women who wanted to live pious and saintly lives.
Some of these women hailed from noble and patrician families such as Paula, Marcella, and Lea who were widows. As Jerome continued to help these women, hatred for him continued to build among the clergy and commoners in Rome. Another reason why the clergy were against him was that he was very witty and they accused him of arrogance and hot-temper.
After the death of Pope Damasus I on December 10 384, who would shield Jerome from criticism, Jerome was left unprotected and made to leave his job as a secretary. He was even accused of having an improper relationship with the widow, Paula.
The general population in Rome was also very displeased by Jerome after Paula’s daughter, Blaesilla’s health deteriorated drastically and died four months after practicing asceticism as prescribed by Jerome. They accused Jerome of taking away the life of a very young and promising woman.
To escape from these vicious accusations, St Jerome left Rome for good in August 385 and went to the Holy Land. A while later Paula and her daughter Eustochium joined him there for guidance and instructions. After pilgrimage in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and other holy places of Galilee they settled in Bethlehem.
In Bethlehem, St Jerome wrote extensively for 34 years. He defended the divinity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and battled several heresies.
Jerome corrected the Vetus Latina (the existing Latin-language version of the New Testament) and translated the Hebrew Bible from the original Hebrew and Old Latin. He also produced a number of commentaries on Scripture.
St Jerome comes second after Augustine of Hippo as the second most voluminous writer in ancient Latin Christianity. This makes the Catholic Church recognize him as the patron saint of librarians, translators, and encyclopedists.
Saint Jerome Death
St Jerome died on September 30 420 AD near Bethlehem. His remains were originally buried in Bethlehem but were transferred to the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.
St Jerome’s feast day is celebrated on September 30 in the Catholic Church.
St Jerome is the Patron Saint of
- School children
- Morong, Rizal
- Bible scholars
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