St. Jerome, Church Father
Known as a great biblical scholar and a Saint that liked to argue his point of view, St. Jerome was one of the most learned of the Latin Fathers. His real name was Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus. He was born on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia at the village of Stridon about 340 A.D.
In the 360's he went to Rome, where he was baptized into the Church. There he studied philosophy, rhetoric, grammar, Latin and Greek.
He began the study of theology in Trier and prepared some copies of classic theological commentaries for his friend, St. Hillary of Poitiers. In the 370's we find him traveling in Syria and settling for a time in Antioch, where he heard Apollinaris of Laodicea, a biblical exgete who was still orthodox at the time. Here about 373 he was inspired to devote his life to God.
By 374 he was leading an ascetical life in the desert of Chalcis, southwest of Antioch, alone with the scorpions and wild beasts, sometimes fasting for weeks. It was here he learned the Hebrew language from a Jewish convert to further his studies of the Old Testament.
In 380 he traveled to the great city of Constantinople, where he became friends with another great Father of the Church, St. Gregory of Nazianzus. In about 382 he was ordained a priest by Bishop Paulinus.
In 382 he began a journey to Rome, where he would become acquainted with and serve Pope Damasus I, until the latter's death in 385.
He began the translation of the Old Testament into a modern Latin in 382 and completed this great task along with the New Testament in 405 A.D. This Bible became known as the Vulgate. He began to focus on commentaries thereafter and wrote many excellent ones. Of his great work, one of his biographers noted:
" . . . he went too far in his reaction against the ideas of his time, and is open to reproach for not having sufficiently appreciated the Septuagint. This latter version was made from a much older, and at times much purer, Hebrew text than the one in use at the end of the fourth century. Hence the necessity of taking the Septuagint into consideration in any attempt to restore the text of the Old Testament. With this exception we must admit the excellence of the translation made by St. Jerome." He died about 420 A.D. His feast day is celebrated on September 30th.
Writings of Saint Jerome
"As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is with the chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built! This is the house where alone the paschal lamb can be rightly eaten. This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails." (Letter to Pope Damasus I, about 374-379).
"Don't you know that the laying on of hands after baptism and then the invocation of the Holy Spirit is a custom of the Churches? Do you demand Scripture proof? You may find in the Acts of the Apostles. And even if you did not rest on the authority of the Scripture the consensus of the whole world in this respect would have the force of a command. For many other observances of the Churches, which are due to tradition, have acquired the authority of the written law." (Dialogue Against the Luciferians, Chapter 8).
"Now our work is, according to our different virtues, to prepare for ourselves a different future . . . If we are all to be equal in heaven, in vain do we humble ourselves here that we may be greater there . . . Why do virgins persevere? widows toil? Why do married women practice continence? Let us all sin, and when once we have repented, we shall be on the same footing as the apostles." (Against Jovinianus, Book 2, chapter 32).
"We believe that God was born of the Virgin, because we read it. That Mary was married after she brought forth, we do not believe, because we do not read it. Nor do we say this to condemn marriage . . . . for virginity itself is the fruit of marriage . . . . You say that Mary did not continue a virgin: I claim still more, that Joseph himself on account of Mary was a virgin, so that from a virgin wedlock a virgin son was born." (The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary, Chapter 21).