By T.K. Wilson (Rated G)
St. Jerome was born Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus in what is now Croatia or Slovenia in the year 342 AD. Despite his good upbringing, young Jerome did as he pleased. Upon journeying to Rome at age twelve, he gave himself up to hedonism. When he wasn’t studying – and he was a very good student -he was running around with his friends and chasing women. To try and assuage his guilt, he would sit in the catacombs and imagine Hell. Though he scared himself, it wasn’t enough to change his ways.
Fortunately, he had a Christian friend, Bonosus, who led him to the Lord. After this, Jerome threw himself into studies of theology and translation, traveling all over the Roman world to find texts to aid him in his studies. He made his way to Antioch, where he fell ill from an unknown disease that took the lives of some of his friends. He had visions while in the throes of this illness that made him even more religious. For a time, he holed himself in a monastery with his books, before he was called again to Rome. Pope Demansus ordained Jerome, then asked him to stay on as his secretary.
Here, Jerome made enemies of certain people in the Roman hierarchy with his quick temper and ready sarcastic wit. He even verbally sparred with Augustine! They eventually made up and were great friends ever after. After the death of Pope Demansus, the enemies he made began spreading nasty rumors about him, even asserting that he was in an inappropriate relationship with a holy widow named Paula. To escape the evil rumors, he headed home to Antioch, and found his students, including Paula, waiting for him. At first the group traveled around, finally setting up an abbey in Bethlehem. It was in this place, finally at peace, that Jerome finished his life’s work, translating the Bible into “modern” Latin – the translation that we now call the Vulgate. Jerome died in the year 420.
Like St. Jerome, may we rise above our flaws to holiness!