Fiery and passionate, witty and sarcastic, a pleasure-loving youth turned strict penitent, a reluctant priest who became the pope’s right-hand man and one of the largest contributors to Catholic theology and morality: St. Jerome.

St. Jerome was born in In 342 AD in Dalmatia-Croatia. His childhood is relatively unknown, except for the fact that his parents were well to do and Christian.

Once he became a teenager, Jerome was sent to Rome to further his studies and to pursue an education in law. Like a typical teen, he quickly lost all sense of morality. While he wasn’t studying, he chased many world pursuits and spent most of his time satisfying his own senses.

But after partaking in such activities, he always experienced severe bouts of guilt and would go visit the catacombs where he would envision himself in the darkness of hell in an attempt to try to deter himself from future sinful actions. For years, he was stuck in the struggle between living a life of sin and living for something more.

Eventually, he persevered and decided to give it his all, and, in the year 364, at 22 years old, Jerome decided to convert to Christianity. He made up for lost time by studying at the famous schools of Trier and learning side by side with saints Chromatius and Heliodorus.

“There are things in life that are bigger than ourselves. Life is short, live it well.” ~ St. Jerome

During his studies, he spent a lot of time visiting cities and places of religious significance, including many of the places where Christ Himself walked in Palestine, as well as many great Greek cities.

After extensive studies, he spent 4 years living as a desert hermit, purging himself of worldly desires, spending time in the desert with nothing but wild beasts and scorpions. There he learned and perfected his ways of asceticism to make reparation for sins of his youth and to fully change his ways.

Following spending years in meditation and great penance, he roared upon the public scene with his many writings and letters and lectures, where he was known to possess a righteous anger and utilized sarcasm and wit to defeat men peddling heresies. He was known to be quick to anger and to be very passionate. Once he and St. Augustine (yes, that Augustine) even got in an argument and remained in heated disagreement, which eventually resolved itself.

Gaining in popularity, church officials petitioned him to become ordained as a priest, but he protested, preferring to remain living his monastic lifestyle. Eventually, he relented and became a priest, only on the condition that he didn’t have to practice public ministry so he could more freely practice his asceticism.

He then became the right-hand man of Pope Damsus, where he advised the Pope and helped him in his work. One of his greatest accomplishments was translating the Bible into Latin, which was a 15-year long task. He was also known for his writings of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of whom he rigorously defended her virginity, as well as singing the praises of practicing chastity and purity that was poorly followed in these days. While in Rome he preached and wrote frequently, and he especially appealed to the women of Rome, who wished to rid themselves of the hedonistic lifestyle that was prevalent at the time.

“Good, better, best. Never let it rest.Til your good is better and your better is best.” ~ St. Jerome

After Pope Damsus’s death, St. Jerome rushed back to his much-loved hermit lifestyle, and founded a monastery in Bethlehem in the mid 380s. There he couldn’t quite escape involvement in Church matters, and fought several heresies and remained an arbitrator of theological arguments.

In one account, St. Jerome is said to be giving a lecture to his students in Bethlehem when a lion came limping towards him. While the others rightfully fled, the saint encouraged the lion to come. He examined its injured foot and extracted a thorn that he found in his paw. It’s said to be an example of supreme Christian charity, helping even your enemies, but also a lion symbolizes the way St. Jerome lived his life, strong and courageous, backing down for no one, and living nobly, with God as his one and only king.

On September 30th, 420, St. Jerome died in his monastery in Bethlehem, leaving behind a plethora of religious writings and leaving a large mark on Catholic history, being an instrumental piece, and was later recognized as a doctor of the church.

“Martyrdom does not consist only in dying for one’s faith. Martyrdom also consists in serving God with love and purity of heart every day of one’s life.” ~ St. Jerome

St. Jerome’s youth was spent in frivolous pursuits, living for fun, living for self, but then he made a choice: To give God his all, to live fully for Him, and that he did to the fullest extent. He became a lion for the faith and pounced at anyone who stood for evil. May we have the same courage and fortitude to chase what is good, to leave nothing on the table, to sacrifice our all for God.