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Albrecht Dürer 035.jpg
St. Jerome in His Study by Albrecht Dürer, 1521
Doctor of the Church
Born c. 342–347
Stridon (possibly Strido Dalmatiae, on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia
Died 30 September 420 (aged approximately 73–78)
Bethlehem, Palaestina Prima
Venerated in Orthodox Church
Roman Catholic Church
Oriental Orthodox Church
Anglican Communion
Major shrine Basilica of Saint Mary Major, Rome, Italy
Feast 30 September (Latin Catholic Church)
15 June (Eastern Orthodox Church)
Attributes Lion, cardinal attire, cross, skull, trumpet, owl, books and writing material
Patronage Archaeologists; archivists; Bible scholars; librarians; libraries; school children; students; translators; Morong, Rizal; Dalmatia, against anger
Influences Paula of Rome, Plato, Vergil, Cicero, Isocrates, Philo, Seneca the younger, Eusebius, Paul the Apostle, Ezra the scribe, Onkelos
Influenced Virtually all of subsequent Christian theology, including Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and some Protestant

Jerome ( Latin: Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; Greek: Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος; c. 342–347 – 30 September 420), also known as Jerome of Stridon, was a Catholic priest, confessor, theologian, and historian; he is commonly known as Saint Jerome.

Jerome was born at Stridon, a village near Emona (now Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia) on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia. He is best known for his translation of the Bible into Latin (the translation that became known as the Vulgate) and his commentaries on the whole Bible. Jerome attempted to create a translation of the Old Testament based on a Hebrew version, rather than the Septuagint, as prior Latin Bible translations used. His list of writings is extensive. In addition to his biblical works he wrote polemical and historical essays, always from a theologian's perspective.

Jerome was known for his teachings on Christian moral life, especially to those living in cosmopolitan centers such as Rome. In many cases, he focused his attention on the lives of women and identified how a woman devoted to Jesus should live her life.

Due to his work, Jerome is recognized as a saint and Doctor of the Church by the Catholic Church, and as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church, and the Anglican Communion. His feast day is 30 September (Gregorian calendar).

Early life

Domenico Ghirlandaio - St Jerome in his study
St. Jerome in His Study (1480), by Domenico Ghirlandaio

Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus was born at Stridon around 342–347 AD. He was of Illyrian ancestry. He was not baptized until about 360–369 in Rome, where he had gone with his friend Bonosus of Sardica to pursue rhetorical and philosophical studies. Jerome studied under the grammarian Aelius Donatus. There he learned Latin and at least some Greek.

Conversion to Christianity

Although at first afraid of Christianity, he eventually converted.

Giovanni Bellini St Jerome Reading in the Countryside
St. Jerome in the Desert, by Giovanni Bellini (1505)

Seized with a desire for a life of ascetic penance, Jerome went for a time to the desert of Chalcis, to the southeast of Antioch, known as the "Syrian Thebaid" . During this period, he seems to have found time for studying and writing. He made his first attempt to learn Hebrew under the guidance of a converted Jew. Around this time he had copied for him a Hebrew Gospel, of which fragments are preserved in his notes. It is known today as the Gospel of the Hebrews which the Nazarenes considered to be the true Gospel of Matthew. Jerome translated parts of this Hebrew Gospel into Greek.

Ministry in Rome

As protégé of Pope Damasus I, Jerome was given duties in Rome, and he undertook a revision of the Vetus Latina Gospels based on Greek manuscripts. He also updated the Psalter containing the Book of Psalms then in use in Rome, based on the Septuagint.

Scholarly Works

Translation of the Bible (382–405)

St Jerome by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
Saint Jerome Writing, by Caravaggio, 1607, at St John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta

Jerome completed his translation of the Bible in a monastery in the city of Bethlehem. He began in 382 by correcting the existing Latin-language version of the New Testament, commonly referred to as the Vetus Latina. By 390 he turned to translating the Hebrew Bible from the original Hebrew, having previously translated portions from the Septuagint which came from Alexandria. He completed this work by 405. Prior to Jerome's Vulgate, all Latin translations of the Old Testament were based on the Septuagint, not the Hebrew. Jerome's decision to use a Hebrew text instead of the previous-translated Septuagint went against the advice of most other Christians, including Augustine, who thought the Septuagint inspired.

Commentaries (405–420)

Antonello da Messina - St Jerome in his study - National Gallery London
St Jerome in His Study by Antonello da Messina

For the next 15 years, until he died, Jerome produced a number of commentaries on Scripture, often explaining his translation choices in using the original Hebrew rather than suspect translations.

In art

Jerome is also often depicted with a lion, in reference to the popular hagiographical belief that Jerome had tamed a lion in the wilderness by healing its paw. The source for the story may actually have been the second century Roman tale of Androcles.

From the late Middle Ages, depictions of Jerome in a wider setting became popular. He is either shown in his study, surrounded by books and the equipment of a scholar, or in a rocky desert, or in a setting that combines both aspects, with him studying a book under the shelter of a rock-face or cave mouth. His study is often shown as large and well-provided for, he is often clean-shaven and well-dressed, and a cardinal's hat may appear. These images derive from the tradition of the evangelist portrait, though Jerome is often given the library and desk of a serious scholar. His attribute of the lion, often shown at a smaller scale, may be beside him in either setting.

Jerome is also sometimes depicted with an owl, the symbol of wisdom and scholarship. Writing materials and the trumpet of final judgment are also part of his iconography.

A four and three quarters foot tall limestone statue of Jerome was installed above the entrance of O’Shaughnessy Library on the campus of the University of St. Thomas (then College of St. Thomas) in St. Paul Minnesota in October 1950. The sculptor was Joseph Kiselewski and the stone carver was Egisto Bertozzi.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Jerónimo (santo) para niños

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