Hieronymus (Church Father)

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St. Jerome in his study, workshop of Pieter Coecke van Aelst (around 1530)

Sophronius Eusebius Hieronymus (born 347 in Stridon , Dalmatia ; died September 30, 420 in Bethlehem , Syria Palestine ) was a scholar and theologian of the ancient church . He was a doctor of the church and is venerated as a saint and father of the church in various Christian denominations . He belongs in the Catholic Church with Ambrose of Milan , Augustine of Hippo and Gregory the Great to the four so-called great church fathers of theLate antiquity . His feast day on September 30th is celebrated in the Orthodox , Roman Catholic and Armenian churches . The Evangelical Name Calendar also lists it on September 30th.


His wealthy Christian parents sent Hieronymus to Rome at a young age to see the famous grammarian Aelius Donatus to study grammar , rhetoric and philosophy . Among the fellow students was the Christian Pammachius , to whom Hieronymus remained lifelong. During this time Jerome was baptized. After staying in Trier and Aquileja , Hieronymus traveled by land to the east of the empire around 373 and lived as a hermit in Syria . He then learned Greek and Hebrew in Antioch on the Orontes , making Jerome an exception among the scholars of his time.

Around 379 he was ordained a priest in Antioch . He then studied in Constantinople under the church teacher Gregor von Nazianz . From 382 to 384 he stayed in Rome again and developed good contacts with the local bishop Damasus I. He also met us as a pastor of some distinguished Roman women, including Saints Marcella , Lea , Fabiola , Paula and their daughters, the Virgin Eustochium and the young widow Blaesilla , who was also canonized .

Bernardino Mei : The Vision of Saint Hieronymous

Jerome was a radical ascetic . When the young widow Blaesilla starved herself to death under his supervision, Hieronymus was exposed to public criticism. In 385 he fled Ostia on a ship accompanied by Paula and Eustochium to make a pilgrimage to the biblical sites of Palestine. 386 they settled in Bethlehem and founded from Paula's assets a Men monastery , three pins for young women and widows and a hospice for pilgrims ; Hieronymus died here in 420.

Jerome was a literarily well-educated man who also read and used pagan works. But that also brought him into a conflict of conscience. In his letter at 22.30 (to Eustochium) he describes a vision in which the heavenly judge accuses him of being a follower of Cicero rather than a Christian and has him flogged, whereupon he vows to get better. This description was received many times in writings and the fine arts and is exemplary of the tension between pagan antiquity and medieval piety in the age of humanism , in which the study of antiquity was of great importance.

Jerome was considered a very spirited man who took his theology and interpretation extremely seriously. He sometimes interpreted a difference of opinion as a personal insult and often responded with polemics. He used to say: Parce mihi, Domine, quia Dalmata sum (Have mercy on me, Lord, because I am Dalmater).


The Latin translation of the Old Testament

Hieronymus is the author of the Vulgate , the long-standing authoritative translation of the Bible by the Catholic Church. He translated into a Latin that he carefully approximated the spoken Latin of his time. For the New Testament he revised the older translation Vetus Latina (formerly also called Itala ).

Jerome mastered classical and contemporary Latin as well as Greek, and in his writings he also referred to Jewish scholars who had taught him Hebrew. While his knowledge of Hebrew was judged to be very modest until some time ago, more modern research now allows him to have a higher level of language skills.

From 385 Jerome translated many books of the Old Testament in Bethlehem according to the Septuagint , i.e. from ancient Greek, namely the Book of Psalms , the Book of Job , the Proverbs , the Song of Songs , the Book of Kohelet and the ( first and second) Book of Chronicles . From 393 on, Jerome published a translation of the entire Old Testament, according to his own statements "according to the Hebrew"; However, based on recent research, it is also assumed that this translation was also made after the Septuagint , but possibly one that also contained the readings of other Greek translations.


Jerome is the only Latin church father who commented on all books of the prophets . His commentary in Danielem on the book of Daniel occupies a central position in the history of the occidental commentary on Daniel.

Other works

Jerome was a prolific writer. He also wrote a geography of Palestine, other translations and writings on theological controversies and biblical interpretation. This is why Hieronymus is considered the patron saint of translators - the International Translators' Day is named after him. He also wrote numerous letters that represent an important source for the events of that time, a church writer's catalog ( De viris illustribus ), which also represents his main historical work with 135 biographies, as well as the lives of the hermits Hilarion of Gaza , Paul of Thebes and Malchus of Syria , which he visited himself.

Jerome translated and revised the Chronicle of Eusebius of Caesarea and continued this until 378; His sources included Suetonius and the so-called Enmann Imperial History . This was the first time that Latin Christendom had access to a representation of the history “from Abraham” to the present day. According to the information in the foreword to the chronicle, he also planned a more comprehensive historical work about the time of the emperors Gratian and Theodosius I , but like other planned works he no longer wrote it.

Title Church of St. Jerome

San Girolamo dei Croati has existed since the 15th century and was elevated to the title church by Pope Pius V. Since then, many cardinals of Croatian origin or with Croatian relatives have been cardinal priests or deacons of San Girolamo. More recently it is always the Archbishop of Zagreb (currently Cardinal Josip Bozanić ).


In the visual arts of the late Middle Ages and modern times, Jerome was often depicted - mostly as a scholar in his study, as a hermit in the wilderness, as a cardinal or in the company of the church fathers Ambrosius , Augustine and Gregory . The lion is an attribute of the saint because, according to tradition, Jerome is said to have pulled a thorn out of a lion's paw, which then became tame and his loyal companion. Further attributes are the Bible, the scarlet cardinal's hat , books, a crucifix , the skull or a stone with which the hermit strikes his chest.

Albrecht Dürer : Hieronymus in the Case , 1514

The type of St. Jerome as a hermit found its place in art history as Hieronymus in the case a . a. in paintings


The works of Hieronymus have been edited as part of the Patrologia Latina , the Corpus Christianorum (Series Latina) and the Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum . For details, see the overview at Rebenich. Selected translations have appeared in the Library of the Church Fathers series.


Web links

Commons : Hieronymus  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Primary texts

Wikisource: Sophronius Eusebius Hieronymus  - Sources and full texts (Latin)
Wikiquote: Jerome  - Quotes
Information about Jerome


  1. ^ So the chronicle of Prosper , Uta Heil:  Hieronymus. In: Michaela Bauks, Klaus Koenen, Stefan Alkier (eds.): The scientific Bibellexikon im Internet (WiBiLex), Stuttgart 2006 ff., On the other hand, names 419/420 as the time of death without specifying a date.
  2. Hieronymus - Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints . Website of the Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  3. Georg Grützmacher, Hieronymus: A biographical study on old church history , Volume 2, Berlin 1906, p. 181.
  4. Hieronymus, Epist. 2d.39 , To Paula: On Blesilla's Death, Library of the Church Fathers, Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  5. Hieronymus, Epist. 3a.45 , To Asella, Library of the Church Fathers, Retrieved March 17, 2017.
  6. Hieronymous Epist. 22.30 . Church Fathers Library website. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  7. ↑ In detail in Berndt Hamm: Religiosity in the late Middle Ages. 2011, p. 186 ff.
  8. Pierre Nautin: Article Hieronymus , in: Theologische Realenzyklopädie , Vol. 15 (1986), pp. 304-315, here p. 309, z. BZ 37: “However, it can be proven that he hardly knew this language in practice”.
  9. ^ A. Fürst, Current tendencies of Hieronymus research , in: Adamantius 13 (2007), pp. 144–151
  10. Pierre Nautin: Article Hieronymus , in: Theologische Realenzyklopädie, Vol. 15 (1986), pp. 304-315, here p. 310.
  11. [1]
  12. ^ Richard W. Burgess : Jerome and the Kaisergeschichte . In: Historia 44 (1995), pp. 349-369; More problematic and speculative is Burgess' thesis of an editing of imperial history reaching up to 378, see: Richard W. Burgess: A Common Source for Jerome, Eutropius, Festus, Ammianus, and the Epitome de Caesaribus between 358 and 378, along with Further Thoughts on the Date and Nature of the Imperial History . In: Classical Philology 100 (2005), pp. 166-192.
  13. ^ Stefan Rebenich: Jerome, The Early Fathers of the Church. London u. a. 2002, p. 27.
  14. ^ Stefan Rebenich: Jerome, The Early Fathers of the Church. London u. a. 2002, pp. 68-70.