Saints Bio: St. Jerome
Jerome was the foremost biblical scholar of the ancient Church. His translation of the Bible, along with his commentaries and homilies on the biblical books, have made him a major intellectual force in the Western Church. Jerome was born in about 347, and was converted and baptized during his student days in Rome. On a visit to Trier, he found himself attracted to the monastic life, which he tested in a brief but unhappy experience as a hermit in the deserts of Syria. At Antioch, he continued his studies in Hebrew and Greek. In 379, he went to Constantinople where he studied under Gregory of Nazianzen. From 382 to 384 he was secretary to Pope Damasus I, and spiritual director of many noble Roman ladies who were becoming interested in the monastic life. It was Damasus who set him the task of making a new translation of the Bible into Latin — into the popular form of the language, hence the name of the translation: the Vulgate. After the death of Damasus, Jerome returned to the East, and established a monastery at Bethlehem, where he lived and worked until his death on 30 September 420. Jerome is best known as the translator of the Bible into Latin. A previous version (now called the Old Latin) existed, but Jerome’s version far surpassed it in scholarship and in literary quality. Jerome was well versed in classical Latin (as well as Greek and Hebrew), but deliberately translated the Bible into the style of Latin that was actually spoken and written by the majority of persons in his own time. This kind of Latin is known as Vulgate Latin (meaning the Latin of the common people), and accordingly Jerome’s translation is called the Vulgate.