Blessed Jerome of Stridona

Commemorated on June 15

      Blessed Jerome of Stridona was born into a Christian family in the city of Stridona (Dalmatia or Pannonia). For the completion of his education his parents sent him to Rome, where he studied the secular sciences. At the beginning of his life in the capital, the youth was captivated by worldly vanities, but soon there matured a decision to change his life to the very core. When the youth was about 20 years old, he accepted holy Baptism. After this he visited in Gaul (France). Here for Saint Jerome there awakened the desire to dedicate himself totally to God and accept monasticism.
      In about the year 372 Blessed Jerome returned to his native city, but his parents had already departed from among the living. On him fell the care of raising his younger sisters and brother Paulinian. The taking of vows was put aside for the time. Blessed Jerome began zealously to study Holy Scripture.
      Having made the domestic arrangements, he journeyed to the East and for about 5 years he dwelt at one of the Syrian monasteries, combining work on the Holy Scriptures with austere ascetic deeds. Besides this, Saint Jerome studied to perfection the Hebrew and Chaldean languages. During this period there began his correspondence with a numerous persons upon a variety of questions. About 120 letters have been preserved, considered authentically written by Blessed Jerome. During this time there arose a controversy between the proponents of bishops Meletios, Paulinos and Vitalius. The controversy also reached the monastery where Blessed Jerome toiled. In consequence, the disputes caused him to leave the monastery and go to Antioch. Here Bishop Paulinos ordained him to the dignity of presbyter. Afterwards, Blessed Jerome visited Constantinople, conversed with the Sainted-bishops Gregory the Theologian and Gregory of Nyssa, and in the year 381 set off to Rome. At Rome he continued his labour of studies. The holy Pope Damasus I (366-384), also pre-occupied with the study of Holy Scripture, brought him into his proximity. But because the saint denounced the morals of the contemporary Christian society, a whole party of those bearing malice towards the saint came forward. After a three year stay at Rome, Blessed Jerome felt compelled to abandon this city for good. Together with his brother Paulinian and friends, Blessed Jerome visited the Holy Land, and also the monks of the Nitreia wilderness monastery, and in the year 386 he settled into a cave at Bethlehem in the vicinity of the cave of the Nativity of Christ, and there he began a life of quite austere asceticism.
      This was the period of blossoming of his creative activity. Attending to the studies of his time, Blessed Jerome left to the Church a rich written legacy: collections of dogmatic-polemic works, moral-ascetic works, works of commentary on Scripture, and historical works. But the most important of his works was the compiling into the Latin language in a new translation the books of the Old and New Testaments. This Latin translation is called the "Vulgate" and it passed into general use throughout the Western Church.
      Blessed Jerome with deep sorrow lived through the fall of his beloved city Rome, which was sacked by the Goths in the year 410. And in the year 411 a new ordeal beset the saint, an invasion by wild Bedouin Arabs. Only through the mercy of God was the community of the aged ascetic saved from complete destruction. He finished his life at the cave in Bethlehem. The year of death of Blessed Jerome is reckoned as 420. His relics were transferred from Bethlehem to Rome.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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