A Garner of Saints – Saint Jerome

detail of a stained glass window of Saint Jerome; 19th century by F X Zettler, Munich, Germany; parish church of Saint Alban, Gutenzell-Hürbel, Biberach, Germany; photographed in January 2015 by Andreas Praefcke; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

(Italian: Girolamo; Latin: Hieronymus, Jeronimus): Latin doctor of the church. Born at Striconium in Dalmatia in 331 and received full instruction in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. But he loved Plato more than the prophets, and, being seized with a fever and expecting death, he thought himself caught up before the Judgment Throne of God. Questioned as to his condition, he answered that he was a Christian. Thou liest, came the answer, for where the treasure is there will the heart be also. At this Jerome was silent, and the judge commanded him to be scourged. And he begged for mercy while those standing by also pleaded for him, and upon his promising never again to read secular writings, he was released. He awoke bathed in tears with the marks of the stripes still upon his shoulders. On his recovery he departed to the Egyptian desert, struggling with the flesh and enduring unheard of privations and penances. After four years he settled in Bethlehem, founding a monastery there. Here he amassed a great library, spent his time in fasting and study, and devoted fifty years to the translation of the Scriptures, the result of his labours being the Vulgate. He also founded a nunnery there, establishing in it his friends Paula the widow and her virgin daughter Eustochium. One day towards evening, as Jerome and the monks were seated reading the Scriptures, a lion which had fallen lame entered the monastery. The monks fled precipitately, but Jerome went up to him and found that the animal had run a thorn into its foot. He drew it forth, and ever afterwards the lion dwelt there like a domestic animal, eating hay like an ox. Jerome imposed upon him the service of safe guarding the ass who brought wood to the monastery. But one day the lion fell asleep, and some merchants who were passing by with their camels stole the ass, who was grazing at a great distance from the lion. When the lion awoke he went about seeking for the ass, and not being able to find him, returned in shame to the monastery, though he would not venture to enter by the gate. When the monks saw him they concluded that he had eaten the ass and refused to give him his accustomed food. By Jerome’s advice they made the lion perform the duty of the ass and bring faggots from the forest. After this had continued for a long while it chanced that the lion became very restless one evening and at length he perceived the merchantmen returning with their camels and the ass with them. And the lion roared and rushed upon them so that they fled for their lives, while the lion drove the ass and the camels to the gates of the monastery. When Jerome was told of this he gave orders that the camels should be unloaded and their feet washed. Meanwhile the lion ran through the monastery kneeling before each of the monks and wagging his tail, as if to ask pardon for his past offence. While these events were going forward the merchants arrived at the gate and asked to see the abbot, and as he went out to them, they threw themselves at his feet, imploring his forgiveness. But Jerome drew them in with him and entertained them to a feast which he had prepared in anticipation of their coming. Now when Jerome’s end drew near he commanded that they should lay him on the ground, covering his body with sackcloth, and calling the monks together he spoke words of comfort and exhortation to them, appointing his successor. After he had received the sacrament a great light shone about him, and innumerable angels were seen by the by-standers, while the Saviour addressed him asking if he was ready. After an hour the light departed and Jerome was no more. At that very hour Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, was sitting in his cell meditating on a treatise, and had begun to write to Jerome, when a great light shone in his cell and a voice reproved him for endeavouring to comprehend the eternal beatitude while still in the flesh. And Augustine leamed that Jerome’s spirit was addressing him, and after he had asked many questions concerning the joys of Paradise, the angels and the Trinity, the light and the voice departed. It is said that Jerome was appointed cardinal at the age of twenty-nine, receiving the hat from the hands of the Blessed Virgin herself.

Attributes

  • Naked and striking his breast with a stone, wears a long white beard; dressed as a cardinal with an attendant lion. In the latter character he sometimes holds a church and a book.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Jerome”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 19 April 2017. Web. 24 June 2017. <>