St Jerome, Marian Scholar and Doctor of the Church (347-419)

St Jerome, Marian Scholar and Doctor of the Church (347-419)

St Jerome was a brilliant scripture scholar and translator of the Bible. He was a consultant to the Pope, Bishops and monks. None before or after him were so well qualified or gifted to achieve this monumental task. He is peerless.


Jerome made a tremendous contribution and influence to the development of Marian tradition within the Western Christianity. He affirms Mary's perpetual virginity. Her virginity is firmly based on scripture. Those who are ignorant of scripture are ignorant of the Mother of God. He vehemently challenged anyone to deny this obvious fact. He uses most of the prophets, the Psalms and the Song of Songs to praise Mary bountifully. The value, reverence and respect for the word of God and its translation possessed Jerome. This was his life-long pursuit, joy and calling. He found God's glory in all of its expression and he expressed it with his whole heart and mind.

The monumental work of translating the Hebrew Scriptures into Latin in Bethlehem

Anger, fury, passion and intensity are a few words that characterize his personality traits. He was an outspoken person and a fearless critic. He was held in high esteem. St Jerome was the most learned priest of his time. Because of the political turmoil in Rome around 384, Jerome abruptly turned away. He went to Palestine. There he settled in Bethlehem where he founded a double monastery for men and women. He also started a school for boys. During this period, he began his long awaited mission on the monumental work of translating the Hebrew Scriptures into Latin. That was the common (vulgar) language of the Roman world. Hence the name of his translation is called the Vulgate.

St Jerome's writings defended Mary's perpetual virginity

He was a prolific writer and his works are voluminous. His writings defended the Virgin Mary's perpetual virginity in mind and body. Jerome's keen intellect could be contentious when his vision of truth differed from others. He was a passionate lover of biblical, written expression. His ill-nature, which all creatures possess due to original sin, was forever attacking, challenging and defending his pursuit of scriptural expression.

Not only Mary's virginity but Joseph's as well

You say that Mary did not remain a virgin. I, instead, claim to affirm something even more: namely, that Joseph also remained a virgin for Mary's sake, so that a virgin Son might be born from a virgin marriage. For if there was no place for fornication in a holy man like Joseph, and if it is not written that he had another wife, and if for Mary, who was considered his wife, he was a guardian rather than a husband, we conclude that, along with Mary, he who merited to be called father of the Lord remained a virgin.

Jerome argued not only for Mary's perpetual virginity but for Joseph's as well. Other doctors went so far as to firmly adhere to the theory that Joseph was sanctified in his mother's womb, as John the Baptist, owing to his unquestionable higher dignity and sublime calling as the husband of Mary. The evangelists seldom mention Joseph. St Matthew could pay him no higher or greater honor than by stating that he was the spouse of Mary. Mary's husband, in Jerome's view, was never an old man, as some stories depict him.


St Jerome is the second of the Western Roman World Church Doctors.

He was held in esteem by friends and foe alike and deemed the most learned priest of his time. His bones lie at rest in the basilica of St Mary Major in Rome. His contributions to civilization and the Church, through his major translation of the Bible, are extraordinary.