Jerome, Father of the Church
Feast Day: September 30
Jerome was born in the country we now call Croatia sometime between 340 and 347. He was tutored at home and developed a love for education. When he was about 12, his parents sent him to Rome to study both Greek and Latin.
Jerome was baptized a Christian in Rome. He then studied with some of the great Scripture scholars of his time. Jerome felt that God was calling him to use his education to serve the Church.
Jerome was ordained a priest at Antioch and given permission to devote his life to study and writing rather than ministering to the people of a parish. He needed quiet for his studies, so he moved to the wilderness to live a life of silence and simplicity. In the wilderness, he began to study Hebrew, to copy books by hand, and to write letters defending and explaining the faith. Each of these tasks prepared Jerome for the great work he was yet to do.
Pope Damasus called Jerome to Rome to be the papal secretary. In addition to those duties, Damasus asked Jerome to translate the Gospels from Greek into Latin, the language of the Church. Jerome’s translation of the Gospels was more accurate than any other version available at the time.
After Damasus died, Jerome traveled throughout the Holy Land and eventually settled in Bethlehem, where he built and became the spiritual director of a monastery. His duties allowed him the freedom and silence he needed to translate most of the Old Testament from Hebrew (which he had learned in the wilderness) into Latin. He is said to have died around the year 420.
Jerome’s translation of the Old and New Testaments is called the Vulgate, or common version, of the Bible. He is honored as a Doctor of the Church; his work made it possible for Catholics to understand and to respond to God’s Word. He is the patron saint of librarians.
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