Saint Jerome (420)

Saint Jerome — who is called in Latin, Hieronymus, which means holy name — was born in Dalmatia. He was baptized a Catholic when he was eighteen years old. After living as a hermit in Palestine, Saint Jerome came to Rome. Much against his will, because of his great humility, he was ordained a priest. He was the great friend and ally of Saint Damasus, the thirty-ninth Pope. Saint Damasus commissioned him to translate the whole Bible into Latin. It took Saint Jerome fourteen years to make his first version in Latin of the Holy Scripture, in what is known as the Vulgate. A few more years were required to make emendations, and then in the beginning of the fifth century, the lovely Latin — the language of the Church — was, in Jerome’s style, the perpetual prayer of Catholics.

Saint Jerome had a great devotion and love for the Blessed Virgin Mary. He went to Bethlehem, and lived near the crib where Our Lord was born. He had two wonderful disciples there, Saint Paula, and her daughter, Saint Eustochium. Saint Jerome had a great devotion to the Guardian Angels. He is the Doctor of the Church who assures us — and the Church has completely confirmed this — that each one of us has a Guardian Angel for himself. It was also Saint Jerome who beautifully let us know that Saint Cleophas was the brother of Saint Joseph. This explains why Saint James, Saint Simon and Saint Jude, the sons of Saint Cleophas, and Saint James the Greater and Saint John, his grandsons, are referred to as “the brethren of Our Lord.”

Saint Jerome died in Bethlehem, with his head in the manger where Our Lord was born. His body is now kept in the Church of Saint Mary Major in Rome, where Our Lord’s crib is also kept. Saint Jerome wrote the lives of two wonderful saints — Saint Paul the Hermit whose feast day is January 15, and Saint Paula, whose feast day is January 26.

Saint Jerome is one of the thirty-two Doctors of the Universal Church. He is one of the eight Doctors who were priests. Two of the Doctors of the Church were Popes, three were cardinals, five were patriarchs, ten were bishops, one was an abbot and one was a deacon. We now have two women Doctors, Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint Catherine of Siena.

“Saint Jerome Writing,” by Caravaggio (1605-6).