Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Memorial of St Jerome

"St Jerome, son of Eusebius, was born at Stridonium in Dalmatian in 329, during the reign of Emperor Constantine. He was baptized at an early age in Rome, in which city he was instructed in the liberal arts by Donatus and other learned men. Without a proper guide he neglected to lead a virtuous life, as he later confessed and bitterly lamented.

Desirous of further knowledge, Jerome decided to travel. In his first journeys he was led by the mercy of God into the paths of virtue and salvation. He first visited Gaul, where he met some learned, pious men, and he copied many sacred books with his own hand. He arrived at Trier shortly before the year 370, and it was in this city that the sentiments of piety which he had imbibed in his early youth were awakened, and his heart was entirely converted to God. He then proceeded to Greece, where he studied oratory and philosophy, and made friends with some of the greatest theologians. He studied under St Gregory of Nazianzen at Constantinople, by whom he was taught sacred learning, and then he returned to Rome to answer God's call. After making a vow of celibacy, he went to Antioch; then fled to the wild Syrian desert, where he spent four years reading the Scriptures, contemplating heavenly beatitude, and constantly afflicting his body by abstinence, weeping, and every kind of penance. His health impaired, he left the desert and went to Antioch, where he received Holy Orders from the hands of Paulinus, Patriarch of that city, before the end of 377. He then returned to Rome to settle the disputes that had arisen between certain Bishops, and Pope Damasus engaged him to assist in writing his ecclesiastical letters. After the Pontiff's death, envy and calumny were hurled against St Jerome. His reputation was attached most outrageously. After staying several years in Rome, St Jerome, yearning for solitude, returned to the East in 385. He visited St Epiphanus at Cyprus, and then stopped in Antioch on his way to Palestine. The following spring he went to Egypt to improve himself in sacred learning and in the perfect observances of the monastic life, after which he returned to Palestine.

According to St Augustine, St Jerome had a remarkable knowledge not only of Latin and Greek, but also of Hebrew and Chaldaic, and had read almost every author. He translated the Old Testament from the Hebrew, and, at the command of Pope Damasus, the New Testament from the Greek. Besides this, he translated into Latin the writings of many learned men, and enriched Christian learning from his own pen.

The Pelagians the year following the Council of Diospolis, in 416, sent bandits to Bethlehem to assault the holy Monks and Nuns who lived under the direction of St Jerome. The Saint escaped with great difficulty. He became the target of hatred of all the enemies of the Church. Having reached the age of ninety-one, and being renowned for learning and holiness, St Jerome passed to his heavenly reward on September 30, 420, during the reign of Emperor Honorius. His body was buried at Bethlehem, but was later translated to the Basilica of St Mary Major in Rome."

-- Heavenly Friends: a saint for each day by Rosalie Marie Levy

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