Feast Day:  30th September

This is a saint of great likes and dislikes.  As a young man, he made friendships that lasted a lifetime, but his thunderous invectives against his enemies and critics are also famous, and he is seen to be the most human of saints and one of the most powerful forces for good in the history of the Church.

St Jerome was born around the year 342 in what is now Croatia, and at the age of twelve he was sent to Rome to study under the famed grammarian Donatus.  There he met Rufinus of Aquileia whose friendship he kept until late in life, and Pammachius, a Roman patrician whose friendship he kept to the end.

He travelled with student-friends to Trier and there discovered monasticism and joined a community of would-be monks.  In 371, he began his travels, journeying as far as Antioch, and then tried the life of a hermit in the Chalcis region of Syria.  Returning to Antioch, he studied under some of its most eminent teachers, was ordained a priest, and went to Constantinople to study under St. Gregory Nazianzus and St. Gregory of Nyssa, and to read Origen, whose scriptural work he greatly admired.

In 382, he travelled to Rome where he became secretary to Pope Damasus and spiritual director to several Roman families.  On the death of the pope, in the company of his brother and several monks, he left for the East.  He toured the monastic centres of Egypt with St. Paula, a wealthy Roman matron, and finally settled in Bethlehem where he spent the rest of his life.

In Bethlehem, he began a new translation of the Scriptures, using the original Hebrew and Greek, producing the Latin Vulgate, the most influential book of the ancient Christian world.  Scriptural commentaries and historical studies came forth from his pen, and as the most learned man of his time he took an active part in the theological controversies of his day.

He died in the year 420, an old man, and was buried under the church of the Nativity.  His body was later taken to Rome where it rests today in the church of St Mary Major.


O Lord, O God of truth, whose Word is a lantern to our feet and a light upon our path: We give you thanks for your servant Jerome, and those who, following in his steps, have laboured to render the Holy Scriptures in the language of the people; and we pray that your Holy Spirit will overshadow us as we read the written Word, and that Christ, the living Word, will transform us according to your righteous will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Thought for the Day:  “To know the Scriptures is to know Christ,” wrote St Jerome, and he made the Scriptures his life’s study.  He found there not only occupation for his mind but also wisdom for his life and a pattern of holiness that leads to God.  The Scriptures should be our light and our life.