Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Chapel of St. Jerome's - Bethlehem

St. Catherine's- A Roman Catholic Church
 in Bethlehem
 serves as the access to the cave of St. Jerome.
From a cave beneath the Church of the Nativity,
 came the most enduring version
 of the Bible ever translated.
In this underground  study, 
which was very pleasant in the summer
 and quite cold in the winter,
St. Jerome spent 30 years here translating
 the Bible from
Hebrew and Greek into Latin.

The scholarly Dalmatian priest began his task
 around 386 AD. The text he produced in St. Jerome's Cave
 was the first official vernacular version of the Bible. 
Known as the VULGATE, it remained the authoritative version
 for Catholics until the 20th century. 
Some historians believe this version was heard
 by more Christians that any other.

St. Jerome - also known as Hieronymus, 
(the Latin version of Jerome), spent more that 36 years 
in the Holy Land. He was well know for his ascetic lifestyle
 and his passionate participation in doctrinal controversies.

Mosaic in the Chapel of St. Jerome

Jerome died in 420.
 His body was later transferred to Constantinople
 and then to Rome, where his bones rest today
 in the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

In front of St. Catherine's, his statue stands
 on a granite column in a restored Crusader cloister.
 At his feet is a skull,
 a symbol of the transience of human life.
Jerome was a very prolific writer and a visit here 
makes me think about my own personal legacy.
What writing have I done to endure the test of time?
How about you?

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