Wednesday’s People: Saints Paula and Jerome

by Melanie on August 9, 2017

in Catholicism, Nonfiction, Saints, Sisterhood of Saints, Spirituality, Wednesday's Woman

Note: I’m currently featuring women saints who had notable relationships with male saints–their sons, husbands, fathers, or colleagues in faith.

The Basics: Paula, born in 347 in Italy; died in 404 in Israel; canonized pre-congregation; feast day, January 26. Wife, mother, woman religious. Jerome, born 347; died in 420 in Israel; canonized pre-congregation; feast day, September 30. Priest, theologian.

The Story: Their paths intersected at just the right time. Paula and Jerome met when he visited Rome in 382, just three years after she had been widowed. During those three years, Paula had become involved in a circle of women established by Marcella, later a saint herself. Through that group, Paula became deeply involved in ministry to the needy. Jerome arrived for a synod and ended up staying to work on a translation of the Bible, which became known as the Vulgate. Jerome and Paula became so close that there was gossip they had an “improper relationship,” which may have cost Jerome some support. (Of course, his cantankerous personality probably didn’t help either.)

The pair left Rome separately and ended up in Bethlehem, Paula accompanied by her daughter Eustochium. There, they founded monasteries for men and women, in large part on Paula’s money. Paula helped Jerome with his work translating the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin and also did some of his editing. Jerome’s close relationship with Paula’s family continued to his death; it is said that a granddaughter named for her, “closed the eyes of St. Jerome.”

Jerome’s Words about Paula: “The more she cast herself down, the more she was lifted up by Christ. She was hidden and yet she was not hidden. By shunning glory, she earned glory, for glory follows virtue as its shadow; and deserting those who seek it, it seeks those who despise it.”

What We Can Learn from Paula and Jerome: Jerome, a Doctor of the Catholic Church, is honored for his translations and writings. Paula, perhaps, does not receive all the credit she might deserve. That’s the way things work out sometimes in partnerships. Their relationship shows us that it is doing God’s work, not getting public acclaim for it, is what matters.

To Learn More About Paula and Jerome: Read the letter Jerome wrote to Eustochium after Paula’s death.

To Learn More About Other Women Saints and Blesseds: Come back next week, or consider buying my book, Sisterhood of Saints: Daily Guidance and Inspiration.

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