Saints Preserve Us – Saint Jerome
January 26, 2016 6:11pm CST
Jerome was an important and fascinating Catholic scholar of huge influence and importance. He lived between the years 341 and 420 AD. In the early 1970’s while entering my own atheistic rejection of my Catholic upbringing, I was confirmed. The confirmation ceremony involved picking a saint to act as a personal guide through life. At our Catholic junior school, we were handed books on the lives of the saints to choose our saint-names from ready for confirmation that weekend – a Confirmation ceremony is to many Catholics akin to the Jewish Bar Mitzvah ceremony as a rite of passage. I never looked at the book as I had already decided on Saint Christopher as my saint as my Mum had a St Christopher medallion in her car, as he was seen as the patron saint of travellers. There was a problem for me though, Christopher was now rejected as a bona-fide Catholic saint as there was a strong belief that his stories were apocryphal. I never knew saints could be sacked a thousand years after getting their halos. I was forbidden to have him as my saint, with minutes to go in the saint choosing class. With a priest present, my teacher snapped open my book impatiently and chose my saint at random – I was given Jerome, about who I knew nothing. My recent studies of his life give me a belated respect for him. Jerome was a classical scholar, with a strong fascination for the church, possibly for its access to library education. He was baptised in 366 AD, and tried to become a monk in Italy. He was rejected due to his studies also taking in pagan studies. Jerome moved to Palestine, contracting a fever that killed a travelling companion and almost killed him too, but he survived. He had a vision as he recovered in which he was told to reject Cicerian Roman philosophies of stoicism and scepticism and study only scripture. He began to study Hebrew and Greek, and concluded that it was essential to see the Bible as closely as possible to the earliest surviving manuscripts available. Jerome was surly and sarcastic which made him many enemies but his translation of the Bible into the Vulgate Latin edition was to dominate Catholicism until the Protestant Reformation. Jerome returned to Rome and tried to establish his own monastic group, coupled with an accompanying nunnery. His constant proximity to women led to not entirely discredited speculation that he was being promiscuous towards some of them. Jerome’s sarcasm and likely infidelities drove him out of the Catholic capital again, and Jerome migrated to Syria, accompanied by some of the nuns he was working with. His monastery was established in Bethlehem, where he died and received his initial burial in 420. He was later dug up and reburied in Rome, but his controversies in life almost cost him his beautification and canonization. It was his writings and legacy of his highly regarded Bible-translation work that gained him his saintly status. I find I now have a fondness for my confirmation bookworm buddy, as he shared my love of philosophy only to have it supressed. He was not afraid to say what he felt, a traveller and a writer, and he loved women. I kind of like him. Arthur Chappell
7 people like this
• Portland, Connecticut
27 Jan 16
I picked St Therese of Lisieux, I have always appreciated her simple way of doing good things. However your English saint Edmund Campion is big favorite of mine and if I was a boy I think I would have chosen him!!
• South Africa
27 Jan 16
With having a catholic raised mom who married a Protestant Irishman, we had many of the Catholic traditions throughout our childhood. St Christopher medallion is in my wallet and goes absolutely everywhere with me. Each of my children have one either in their purse or in their car. Well Pluto was downranked as well?!