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Saint Jerome

Saint Jerome
  • Century: 4th & 5th Century
  • Patronage: Archeologists, Archivists, Bible Scholars, Librarians, School Children, Students, Translators
  • Feast Day: September 30th

St. Jerome was born in Stridon in 347.  He was a student in Rome, where he was quite casual with his studies, and engaged in superficial activities of the day, but suffered terrible bouts of repentance afterwards.  To appease his conscience, he would visit on Sundays the Sepulchers of the Martyrs and the Apostles in the catacombs.  This experience would remind him of the terrors of hell.   

St. Jerome initially was skeptical of Christianity, but he was eventually converted.  After several years in Rome, he traveled with Bonosus to Gaul, and settled in Trier where he took up theological studies.  From there, he went to study with Rufinus at Aquileia, where he made many Christian friends.  From here, some of these friends accompanied him to journey to Asia Minor, into northern Syria. At Antioch where he stayed the longest, two of his companions died, and he himself was seriously ill.  During this illness, he had a vision that led him to lay aside his secular studies, and devote himself to God.  He plunged deeply into the studying of the Bible.  

Returning to Antioch in 378, he was ordained by Bishop Paulinus, on condition that he continue his ascetic life of penance.  Eventually he went to Rome, and worked for Pope Damasus I, and leading Roman Christians.  He was invited to the synod of 382, held to end the schism of Antioch, and did many other things that distinguished himself to the Pope, and earned for him a prominent place in his councils.  He was given the duty and undertook a revision of the Latin Bible, to be based on the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament.  This was one of his greatest accomplishments.  

In August 385, he left Rome for good, and returned to Antioch with his brother and several friends.  Late in the summer of 388, he went back to Israel, and spent the remainder of his life in a hermit’s cell near Bethlehem, surrounded by a few friends, both men and women, to whom he acted as priestly guide and teacher.  Later, as a result of his writings against Pelagianism, a body of excited parisans broke into the monastic buildings, set them on fire, attacked the inmates and killed a deacon.  This forced Jerome to seek safety in a neighboring fortress.  It is recorded that St. Jerome died near Bethlehem on September 30th, 420.  His remains originally buried at Bethlehem are said to have been later transferred to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.  

Practical Take Away 

St. Jerome was a typical boy of his time.  He studied, and had friends.  He went to Rome to study, and ran about the town with his friends, participating in permiscuous behaviour.  He felt extreme remorse after this behavior, and would spend the weekends in the Catacombs of the Apostles, and in the Sepulchers.  This would remind him of hell, as it was dark, dreary, and the walls lined with dead bodies.  This would bring him into repentance.  He eventually had a conversion, and was Ordained.  For translating the Bible into Latin, one of his greatest works, he was made an early Doctor of the Church.