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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Saint Jerome, Priest, Confessor and Doctor, 420

Jerome, who is reckoned among the four first Doctors of the West was the son of one Eusebius, and was born at Stridonium, a small town upon the confines of Dalmatia, about the year 342. He was baptized at Rome sometime after his eighteenth birthday, having been a catechumen up to that time. And in Rome he studied under the instruction of the famous pagan grammarian Donatus, and other very learned personages. He traveled in Gaul for the sake of improving his mind, and there sought the friendship of divers godly men learned in the Scriptures, and made with his own hand many copies of holy books. He afterwards betook himself to Grecian Asia Minor, where he attained eminence as a philosopher and orator, in the following of the most famous theologians. At Constantinople, in especial, he sat at the feet of Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, from whom he professeth himself to have learnt his theology. Then, for godliness sake, he went to see the home of the Lord Christ, and so throughout all Palestine. He witnesseth that this pilgrimage, wherein he got the help of the most learned of the Jews for the understanding of the Holy Scriptures, did him much good.
He withdrew himself into the wild deserts of Syria, where he passed four years in studying the Bible, meanwhile neglecting in no wise constant meditation and prayer, and the meditation and prayer, and the mortification of his body in self-denial and chastisement of the flesh. As a special penance, he learnt Hebrew. By Paulinus, Patriarch of Antioch, he was finally ordained priest against his own inclination. Thereafter he went to Rome on account of the quarrelling of certain bishops with the aforesaid Paulinus. There, with Saint Epiphanius, he helped Pope Saint Damasus in the writing of his letters upon Church affairs. But the longing for his old solitude came upon him. And he went back to Palestine, where, in the monastery at Bethlehem, built beside the cradle of the Lord Christ by the Lady Paula of Rome, he set himself to enter on earth the life of heaven serving God in reading and writing without ceasing, regardless of the sufferings of a body tormented by divers diseases and pains, to which he added a most harsh treatment of himself for his sins, specially for his sharp tongue. For he never was a lover of moderation, either in virtue or against vice. For he never was a lover of moderation, either in virtue or against vice.
Hard questions upon the interpretation of the Holy Scripture were sent to him from all parts of the earth, as to an oracle. He was oftentimes consulted by Pope Saint Damasus, or by the holy Doctor Augustine, upon the meaning of the most obscure passages of the Scripture because of his extraordinary learning, and his knowledge, not only of the Latin and Greek tongues, but also of Hebrew and Chaldee ; for, as the same Augustine testifieth, he has read nearly all writers. He ever undertook the defence of the godly and Catholic, as he himself testifieth : I never spared hereticks, and have always done mine utmost to make the enemies of the Church mine own enemies. In his time there was in use a Latin version of the Bible which is now called The Vetus, the Old Testament whereof was based on the Greek Septuagint. Jerome made a new version, now known as the Vulgate ; for he translated the Old Testament from Hebrew into Latin, and reformed, according to the original Greek, the existing version the New. Upon a great part of the Scriptures he wrote commentaries. He translated likewise into Latin the works of many learned men, and himself contributed to the Christian life many monuments of his own wit. He lived to an extreme old age, and passed away to heaven, famous for learning and holiness, in the reign of the Emperor Honorius, upon September 30th, in the year of our Lord 420. His body was buried at Bethlehem, but afterwards was brought to Rome, where it is now, in the Church of Saint Mary-at-the-Manger.

Antiphon on the Benedictus:
Well done, good and faithful servant: + thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: * enter thou into the joy of thy Lord (Alleluia.)
O GOD, who for the exposition of thy holy Scriptures didst bestow upon thy Church the wondrous teaching of blessed Jerome thy Confessor and Doctor: grant, we beseech thee; that by the intercession of his merits, we may of thee be enabled to perform those things which he taught in word and deed. Through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

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