International Translation Day

International Translation Day is celebrated every year on 30 September on the feast of St. Jerome, (Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus) the Bible translator, priest, confessor, theologian, and historian, who is considered the patron saint of translator after translating most of the Bible into Latin (the translation that became known as the Vulgate), and making commentaries on the Gospels, who died 30 September 420.

He was born at Stridon around 347 A.D. He was of Illyrian ancestry and his native tongue was the Illyrian dialect. He was not baptized until about 360–366 A.D., when he had gone to Rome with his friend Bonosus (who may or may not have been the same Bonosus whom Jerome identifies as his friend who went to live as a hermit on an island in the Adriatic) to pursue rhetorical and philosophical studies. He studied under the grammarian Aelius Donatus. There Jerome learned Latin and at least some Greek, though probably not the familiarity with Greek literature he would later claim to have acquired as a schoolboy.

As a student in Rome, he engaged in the superficial escapades and homosexual behaviour of students there, which he indulged in quite casually but for which he suffered terrible bouts of guilt afterwards. To appease his conscience, he would visit on Sundays the sepulchres of the martyrs and the Apostles in the catacombs.

The protégé of Pope Damasus I, Jerome was known for his teachings on Christian moral life, especially to those living in cosmopolitan centers such as Rome. In many cases, he focused his attention on the lives of women and identified how a woman devoted to Jesus should live her life. This focus stemmed from his close patron relationships with several prominent female ascetics who were members of affluent senatorial families. He is recognised as a Saint and Doctor of the Church by the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church, and the Anglican Communion.

Jerome used a quote from Virgil—”On all sides round horror spread wide; the very silence breathed a terror on my soul” to describe the horror of hell. Jerome initially used classical authors to describe Christian concepts such as hell that indicated both his classical education and his deep shame of their associated practices, such as pederasty which was found in Rome. Although initially skeptical of Christianity, he was eventually converted After several years in Rome, he travelled with Bonosus to Gaul and settled in Trier where he seems to have first taken up theological studies, and where he copied, for his friend Tyrannius Rufinus, Hilary of Poitiers’ commentary on the Psalms and the treatise De synodis. Next came a stay of at least several months, or possibly years, with Rufinus at Aquileia, where he made many Christian friends.

Some of these accompanied him when he set out about 373 on a journey through Thrace and Asia Minor into northern Syria. At Antioch, wo of his companions died and he himself was seriously ill During one of these illnesses (about the winter of 373–374), he had a vision that led him to lay aside his secular studies and devote himself to God. He began studying the Bible, under the impulse of Apollinaris of Laodicea. Then went to the desert of Chalcis, to the southeast of Antioch, known as the “Syrian Thebaid”, from the number of hermits inhabiting it, to study and write and learn Hebrew under the guidance of a converted Jew; and corresponded with Jewish Christians in Antioch. He has the Hebrew Gospel, preserved in his notes, and is known today as the Gospel of the Hebrews, and which the Nazarenes considered to be the true Gospel of Matthew which he translated into Greek. He returned to Antioch in 378 or 379, he was ordained by Bishop Paulinus. Soon afterward, he went to Constantinople to study Scripture under Gregory Nazianzen. By 385 he returned toRome, as secretary to Pope Damasus I. Jerome accompanied one of the claimants, Paulinus back to Rome during the Schizm of Antioch in order to get more support for him, and distinguished himself to the pope, and took a prominent place in his councils.

While in Rome, he revised the Latin Bible, basing it on the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. He also updated the Psalter containing the Book of Psalms. In Rome he was surrounded by a circle of well-born and well-educated women, including some from the noblest patrician families, such as the widows Lea, Marcella and Paula, with Paula’s daughters Blaesilla and Eustochium. Jerome’s unsparing criticism of the secular clergy of Rome, brought a growing hostility against him among the Roman clergy and their supporters and Soon after the death of his patron Damasus (10 December 384), Jerome was forced to leave his position at Rome despite this His letters were widely read and distributed throughout the Christian empire. Additionally, his condemnation of Blaesilla’s hedonistic lifestyle in Rome led her to adopt ascetic practices, which affected her health and worsened her physical weakness until she died Outraging many of the Roman populace.

In August 385, he left Rome for good and returned to Antioch, accompanied by his brother Paulinian and several friends, including Paula and Eustochium. The pilgrims, joined by Bishop Paulinus of Antioch, visited Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and the holy places of Galilee, and then went to Egypt. At the Catechetical School of Alexandria, Jerome listened to the catechist Didymus the Blind expounding the prophet Hosea and telling his reminiscences of Anthony the Great. Amply provided by Paula with the means of livelihood and of increasing his collection of books, he led a life of incessant activity in literary production. To these last 34 years of his career belong the most important of his works; his version of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew text, the best of his scriptural commentaries, his catalogue of Christian authors, and the dialogue against the Pelagians. Jerome died near Bethlehem on 30 September 420. The date of his death is given by the Chronicon of Prosper of Aquitaine. His remains, originally buried at Bethlehem, are said to have been later transferred to the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

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