St. Jerome

posted by: Joan Vine | on: Wednesday, 28 November 2018, 12:49


St Jerome

St Jerome

Jerome was one of the most important scholars of the early Christian Church. His translation of the Bible into Latin would become the standard edition throughout the Middle Ages, and his viewpoints on monasticism would be influential over the centuries.

Jerome was born at Stridon, Slovenia around 347 C.E. The son of a well-off Christian couple, he began his education at home, then continued it in Rome, where his parents sent him when he was about 12 years old. For the next two decades, Jerome travelled widely. Rufinus would become Jerome's close friend and, later, his adversary. Later he went on a pilgrimage to the East, and when he reached Antioch in 374, he became a guest of the priest Evagrius. Here Jerome may have written his earliest known work.

In early spring of 375 Jerome became severely ill and had a dream that would have a profound impact on him. In this dream, he was hauled in front of a heavenly court and accused of being a follower of a Roman philosopher and not a Christian; for this crime he was horribly whipped. When he woke up, Jerome vowed that he would never again read pagan literature, or even own it. Soon after, he wrote his first critical interpretive work: a commentary on the Book of Obadiah. Not long after this experience, Jerome set off to become a hermit in the desert of Chalcis in the hopes of finding inner peace, but the experience proved to be a great trial. And he returned to Antioch and spent the next three year in intensive study of scriptures.

In 382 while in Rome, Jerome led classes for noble Roman women, widows and virgins who were interested in the monastic life. He also wrote tracts defending the idea of Mary as a perpetual virgin. Accompanied by some of the virgins of Jerome journeyed throughout Palestine, visiting sites of religious importance and studying both their spiritual and archaeological aspects.

In the last 34 years of his life, Jerome wrote the bulk of his work. In addition to tracts on monastic life. Jerome died in 419 or 420 C.E. In the later Middle Ages and Renaissance, Jerome would become a popular subject for artists, often depicted, incorrectly and anachronistically, in the robes of a cardinal. Saint Jerome is the patron saint of librarians and translators.

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