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St. Jerome

St. Jerome

St. Jerome (ca. 345-420) was an early Christian biblical scholar. The official Latin Bible of the Roman Catholic Church, the Vulgate, is largely the product of his labors of translation and revision.

Born in territory now in northwest Yugoslavia, Jerome studied rhetoric as a youth at Rome in preparation for a career in law, which he did not pursue. The 2 decades from his early 20s were a period of much travel and temporary settlement. After a journey to the German city of Trier, he stopped for a time at Aquileia, in Italy, and there became a member of circle of young Christian intellectuals sharing a common commitment to the ascetic life. He had already formed his two consuming interests: scriptural studies and the pursuit of Christian asceticism. In Syria from about 374, for 4 or 5 years he lived as a recluse in the desert, beginning there his study of Hebrew. Finding that life not entirely compatible, he journeyed in 379 to Constantinople, where he was a student of Gregory of Nazianzus; and there also he undertook the translation from Greek into Latin of homilies by Origen, that eminent biblical scholar much admired by Jerome.

For 3 years from 382 Jerome was at Rome, serving as secretary to Pope Damasus. At the Pope's suggestion, he undertook a complete revision of the Latin Gospels of the New Testament, the aim of which was to replace older, varying, and inaccurate versions with a uniform one based on the best available Greek manuscripts. At Rome also he took every opportunity to commend the life of ascetic renunciation, particularly among wealthy and aristocratic ladies, among whom he had a notable following. The death of Damasus in 384 led to Jerome's departure from Rome, and in the company of a group of ascetic enthusiasts he made a pilgrimage to the monastic centers of Palestine and Egypt.

From 386 to the end of his life Jerome was settled in Bethlehem. There he presided over a monastery endowed by the wealthy Paula, who herself presided nearby over a sister foundation for women. Jerome's most significant accomplishment in his 34 years at Bethlehem was his translation of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew into Latin. It was an act of scholarly courage, arousing in his lifetime the criticism of many (including Augustine) who were wedded to the traditional Greek Old Testament as the basis for Latin translations. Of much less credit to Jerome in these years was his role in a number of vitriolic controversies; in the most unfortunate of these he aligned himself with implacable foes of that teacher, then dead a century and a half, from whom Jerome had learned so much—Origen.

Further Reading

A variety of opinions on Jerome are in F. X. Murphy, ed., A Monument to Saint Jerome (1952), a symposium of essays by a number of scholars on various aspects of Jerome's life and significance. David S. Wiesen, St. Jerome as a Satirist: A Study in Christian Latin Thought and Letters (1949), deals with Jerome's writings. See also Jean Steinmann, Saint Jerome and His Times (1959).

Additional Sources

Kelly, J. N. D. (John Norman Davidson), Jerome: his life, writings, and controversies, New York: Harper & Row, 1975.

Warmington, William, A moderate defence of the oath of allegiance, 1612, Ilkley etc.: Scolar Press, 1975. □

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Jerome, Saint

Saint Jerome (jərōm´, jĕr´əm), c.347–420?, Christian scholar, Father of the Church, Doctor of the Church. He was born in Stridon on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia of Christian parents (although he was not baptized until 366); his Roman name was Sophronius Eusebius Hieronymus. He studied in Rome (c.359–363) under Aelius Donatus. After further study at Trier and Aquileia, he journeyed to the East. At Antioch, in 375, he experienced a vision in which Christ reproved him for his pagan studies. Renouncing his classical scholarship, he fled to the desert to live as an ascetic and to devote himself to scriptural studies, for which he learned Hebrew. In 378 he returned to Antioch, was ordained there the following year, and then went to Constantinople to study under St. Gregory Nazianzen. In 382, Jerome returned to Rome with Gregory, when Pope Damasus I asked them to help settle some Eastern problems; Jerome remained as papal secretary. He was acclaimed for his exposition of Scripture, and Damasus requested him to begin on a new version of the Bible. Jerome was spiritual adviser to a number of noble ladies leading conventual lives, among whom the most eminent was St. Paula. Jerome's outspoken criticism of the secular clergy, however, caused antagonism, and when Damasus died he returned East. From 386 to his death, Jerome worked in the monastery that Paula established for him in Bethlehem. There he did the bulk of revision of his Latin translations of the Bible. He also wrote commentaries on Ecclesiastes and the epistles of St. Paul, translated Origen's homilies, revised part of the Latin version of the Septuagint, and translated from the Hebrew Isaiah and other prophets, Psalms, Kings, and Job. Jerome's texts were the basis of the Vulgate. In 393 he wrote De viris illustribus [concerning illustrious men], biographies of 130 Christian writers. Other works include Adversus Jovinianum [against Jovinian], which praises virginity; a dialogue against the Pelagians; panegyrics on deceased friends (e.g., St. Paula); and brilliantly written letters, of which over 100 remain, which furnish a rare account of his time. His correspondence with St. Augustine, with whom he sometimes quarreled, is of particular interest. St. Jerome was involved in many theological and scholarly controversies, even with a long-established friend such as Rufinus. Collections of patristic literature have translations of many of his works. St. Jerome is buried in the Church of St. Mary Major in Rome. Feast: Sept. 30.

See his letters (ed. by J. Duff, 1942); P. Monceaux, St. Jerome: the Early Years (tr. 1933); D. S. Wiesen, St. Jerome as a Satirist (1964); J. N. D. Kelly (1973); E. F. Rice, Jr., St. Jerome in the Renaissance (1988).

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Jerome, St

Jerome, St (c.342–420). Church father. A native of Italy, he set out for Palestine in c.374 and spent four or five years as a hermit. Later (382–5) as secretary to Pope Damasus he successfully preached asceticism in Rome. He eventually settled in Bethlehem in 386, where he devoted the rest of his life to study. Jerome's greatest scholarly achievement was the translation of most of the Bible into Latin (see VULGATE). He also advocated the Church's acceptance of the Heb. canon of the Old Testament, excluding the Apocrypha. He is often represented with a lion at his feet. This goes back to the legend that Jerome helped a lion by removing a thorn from its foot. The lion subsequently assisted Jerome, e.g. by recovering a stolen ass. Feast day, 30 Sept.

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Jerome, St.

Jerome, St.

St. Jerome, an early Christian scholar who lived around a.d. 400, is considered one of the early Latin Fathers and Doctors of the Roman Catholic Church. He became well known for his translation of the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin. Called the Vulgate, his work remained in use until 1979.

According to legend, a lion limped into St. Jerome's monastery in Bethlehem one day. The other monks ran away in fear, but Jerome calmly looked at the lion's paw and removed a large thorn. Thereafter the lion became his companion. The other monks felt that the lion should work for his food as they did, so Jerome told the lion to guard the monastery's donkey. However, one day the lion neglected his duty, and thieves stole the donkey. Noticing that the donkey was missing, the monks accused the lion of eating it and forced the lion to do the donkey's work. Although innocent, the lion obeyed the order without complaint. Some time later, the lion saw the donkey in a caravan passing by the monastery and brought it back to the monks to prove his innocence.

Paintings of St. Jerome usually show him accompanied by a lion. His feast day is September 30.

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Jerome, Saint

Jerome, Saint (347–420) Scholar and translator of the Bible into Latin, b. Eusebius Hieronymous. After a literary education at Rome, he spent two years of intense study as a hermit in the Syrian desert before being ordained a priest at Antioch. Later he returned to Rome. Pope Damasus I commissioned Jerome to prepare a standard text of the gospels for use by Latin-speaking Christians. His work was the basis for what later became the authorized Latin text of the Bible. In 384, Jerome left Rome and set up a monastic community in Bethlehem.

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St Jerome

St Jerome (c.342–420), Doctor of the Church. He was secretary to Pope Damasus in Rome (382–5) before settling in Bethlehem, where he ruled a newly founded monastery and devoted his life to study. He is chiefly known for his compilation of the Vulgate.

In art Jerome is often shown in cardinal's dress, or with the lion from whose paw (according to legend) he removed a thorn; he may also have a stone in his hand as a sign of penance. His feast day is 30 September.

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Saint Jérôme

Saint Jérôme (săN zhārōm´), city (1991 pop. 23,384), S Que., Canada, on the North River, NW of Montreal. It is an industrial center with woolen and paper mills. Rubber and wood products are also manufactured. Saint Jérôme is a commercial center for the Laurentian resort area.

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