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Paula, St.


Widow, ascetic; b. Rome, Italy, May 5, 347; d. Bethlehem, Palestine, Jan. 26, 404. She was born into a rich patrician and Christian family. At age 15 she married Toxotius, and they had five children: (St.) Eustochium, (St.) Blesilla, Paulina (the wife of the Senator (St.) pammachius), Rufina, and Toxotius. A widow at age 31, Paula consecrated her household to an ascetical way of life together with similar groups of noble Roman women on the Aventine and Coelian hills in Rome. St. jerome was their spiritual director. With Eustochium, she followed Jerome to the Orient in 385, visited Palestine and the monks of Nitria under his guidance, and in 386 settled in Bethlehem, where she used her wealth to construct a convent for nuns, a monastery for monks, and a guest house for pilgrims. There she devoted her life to works of charity and penance and to the study of the Scriptures, which Jerome says she knew by heart. Jerome wrote her eulogy (Epist. 108). Her granddaughter Paula, the daughter of her son Toxotius and Laeta Caecina, cared for Jerome in his old age.

Feast: Jan. 26.

Bibliography: Acta Sanctorum Jan. 3:326337. f. lagrance, Histoire de sainte Paule (8th ed. Paris 1931). g. del ton, S. Paolo romana (Milan 1950); f. l. cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (London 1957) 1035. f. x. murphy, ed., A Monument to Saint Jerome (New York 1952). d. gorce, ed. and tr., Vie de sainte Mélanie (Sources Chrétiennes 90; 1962).

[f. x. murphy]

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