Saint Jerome the Priest

Saint Jerome the Priest

On this bike ride I went to see “St. Jerome the Priest,” a bronze statue by Ivan Meštrović, which is located in front of the Croatian embassy at 2343 Massachusetts Avenue (MAP) in the Embassy Row neighborhood of northwest D.C.  The work was donated by the artist to the Croatian Franciscan Fathers, and was originally located at the Franciscan Fathers’ Abbey on Monroe Street in northeast D.C.  It was later moved to the Croatian embassy after Yugoslavia was dissolved and the Croatian state was formed.

Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius, more commonly known as Saint Jerome, was born around 347 A.D. in present-day Croatia.  He is best known as the first translator of the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin.  His edition of the Bible, the Vulgate, is still an important text of the Roman Catholic Church.  He is recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church, as well as the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church, and the Church of England – Anglican Communion.

Besides his contributions as a church father and patronage of subsequent Catholic scholarship, Jerome’s sometimes extreme approach in articulating his scholarly opinions and the teachings of the church also earned him the distinction of being regarded as a patron of people with difficult personalities.  Perhaps this is why I feel like I can relate to him.

Eventually, his harsh temperament and biting criticisms of his intellectual opponents made him many enemies in the church and in Rome, and he was forced to leave the city.  He subsequently went to Bethlehem, established a monastery, and lived the rest of his life in study and prayer.  He also lived out his remaining years practicing abstinence from worldly pleasures, an area in which I am less able to relate to him.

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