Jerome, Saint

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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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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