Thursday, September 30, 2010

Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor


'Saint Jerome and the Angel' by Simon Vouet, 1625

Today is the memorial of St. Jerome, translator of the Bible into its official Latin version (the Vulgate), brilliant scholar, monk, traveler, teacher, letter writer, and consultant to Popes and Bishops. He is one of the most important figures in the history of the Church.

St. Jerome was born in Dalmatia around 340-345 AD to a wealthy Christian family. At the age of 20, he was sent to study in Rome, where he became fluent in Latin and Greek and developed a love for the classical writers. Here he acquired many worldly ideas, made little effort to control his pleasure-loving instincts, and lost much of the piety that had been instilled in him at home. He traveled throughout western Europe with a friend but that ceased when he had a conversion experience in Trier and decided to become a monk. He joined a community in Aquileia in 370, where he met some who would become his close friends and others his enemies. When the community disbanded, he decided to go east and he lived for years in the the Syrian desert as a hermit. He studied Hebrew, which he hated, but used it as a distraction against sexual temptations. He was ordained a priest in Antioch and at the age of 40 went to Constantinople, where he met and befriended St. Gregory of Nazianzus (one of the four great Greek Doctors of the Church.)

St. Jerome became the secretary of Pope Damasus, who commissioned the Vulgate from him, which took him 30 years to write. His harsh temperament and his biting criticisms of his intellectual opponents made him many enemies in the Church and in Rome and he was forced to leave the city. Jerome went to Bethlehem, established a monastery, and lived the rest of his years in study, prayer, and asceticism. Jerome died at Bethlehem, September 30th, 420. Saint Jerome's remains are interred in the church of Saint Mary Major at Rome and his relics are in the Sistine chapel of Saint Mary Major in Rome.

Patron: Archeologists; archivists; Bible scholars; librarians; libraries; schoolchildren; students; translators.

Symbols: Cardinal's hat; lion; aged monk in desert; aged monk with Bible.

Quotes from St. Jerome:

“The Lord who is Truth and says, ‘I am the Truth,’ surrounds us with his truth like a shield to protect us against the stinging darts of the devil. Christ, who is Truth, holds up his shield that the shield of truth may vanquish falsehood and deceit.”

The measure of our advancement in the spiritual life should be taken from the progress we make in the virtue of mortification; for it should be held as certain that the greater violence we shall do ourselves in mortification, the greater advance we shall make in perfection.

I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: "Search the Scriptures," and "Seek and you shall find." For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.

Prayer of St. Jerome for Christ's Mercy

O Lord, show Your mercy to me and gladden my heart. I am like the man on the way to Jericho who was overtaken by robbers, wounded and left for dead. O Good Samaritan, come to my aid. I am like the sheep that went astray. O Good Shepherd, seek me out and bring me home in accord with Your will. Let me dwell in Your house all the days of my life and praise You for ever and ever with those who are there.

The Letters of St. Jerome

1 comment:

Joe Manzari said...

In light of your post on St. Jerome, I wanted to share with you a new website I launched this week,, and I'm hoping you can share it with your blog readers.

What I noticed is that while many people debate theology, few take the time to see what the early Church has said on different theological topics.

While the Church Fathers were not infallible, their widespread consensus on issues should give weight to the theological positions they advanced. Despite the fact that their writings are all available for free online, many people have not taken the time to educate themselves on what the Church Fathers have taught. The website I created is intended to do just that. Another feature of the site is that it allows people to sign up and receive a free weekly quote from a Church Father.

I'd appreciate you spreading the word, emailing the link to your family and friends, mentioning it on your blog, and posting it on Facebook.

I have received the following endorsement from Dr. Frank Beckwith at Baylor University:

“My own return to the Catholic Church would have not been possible if not for the overwhelming evidence that the Church Fathers embraced without reservation—and in fact, often assumed as uncontroversial—those doctrines that presently divide Catholics from Protestants. This website——is a wonderful resource for Catholics, Protestants, as well as Orthodox believers. Whether you are Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox, your spiritual paternity is older than either the 16th, 13th, or 11th century. We have, as they say, a common ancestry. This website will help you to better understand the ancient roots of your faith and what our predecessors—those that formed our theology at Nicaea, Chalcedon, and Orange—believed about a variety of practices and doctrines over which we are divided today.” -- Francis J. Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies, Baylor University. Author of Return to Rome: Confessions of An Evangelical Catholic (Brazos Press, 2009)

Thanks so much!

All the best,