30th September Saint Jerome
We owe Jerome great gratitude for his work to ensure a reliable text of the Bible but also for establishing the principle of translating the sacred texts from the original into the language of the people – in his case the Vulgate Latin that people actually spoke to each other. If ‘vernacular’ everyday language was good enough for men and women to understand each other, it was good enough for them to understand God; and to speak to him as well.
The precedent was set on the first Pentecost when the Apostles were understood by those who heard them, wherever they came from; then in early times Thomas went to India, preaching the Good News there, Phillip to Africa; Paul, Mark, Barnabas, Mary Magdalene – and Peter himself – dispersed across the Empire.
Jerome had a reputation as a quarrelsome man, but his talent for languages was put at God’s service and was his way to salvation. For that matter, so was his argumentative side, for he was ever ready to defend the faith in writing.
Later in life Jerome became a hermit, and he is often shown in a cave with a lion. The story is that this beast came to him with a thorn in its paw, and became a faithful companion after Jerome had tweezered it out.
Lazzaro Bastiani – St Jerome in the Desert – WGA1486.jpg