Catholic and Eastern Orthodox saint and Doctor of the Church
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Saint Jerome (c. 34730 September 420), full name Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus, is best known as the translator of the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin. Jerome's edition, the Vulgate, is still the official biblical text of the Roman Catholic Church. He is canonized in all Christianity and recognized by the Vatican as a Doctor of the Church.

Never look a gift horse in the mouth.
Every rich man is unjust or the heir of an unjust one.
Opulence is always the result of theft, if not committed by the actual possessor, then by his successor.


  • Opulence is always the result of theft, if not committed by the actual possessor, then by his predecessor.


  • Amicum qui diu quaeritur, vix invenitur, difficile servatur.
    • A friend is long sought, hardly found, and with difficulty kept.
      • Letter 3
  • Caritas non potest conparari; dilectio pretium non habet.
    • Love is not to be purchased, and affection has no price.
      • Letter 3
  • Amicitia quae desinere potest vera numquam fuit.
    • The friendship that can cease has never been real.
      • Letter 3
  • Facilius enim neglegentia emendari potest quam amor nasci.
    • It is easier to mend neglect than to quicken love.
      • Letter 7
  • Libet, sarcina corporis abiecta, ad purum aetheris evolare fulgorem. Paupertatem times? sed beatos Christus pauperes appellat. Labore terreris? at nemo athleta sine sudore coronatur. De cibo cogitas? sed fides famem non timet. Super nudam metuis humum exesa ieiuniis membra collidere? sed Dominus tecum iacet. Squalidi capitis horret inculta caesaries? sed caput tuum Christus est. Infinita eremi vastitas te terret? sed tu paradisum mente deambula. Quotiescumque illuc cogitatione conscenderis, toties in eremo non eris.
    • Sweet it is to lay aside the weight of the body and to soar into the pure bright ether. Do you dread poverty? Christ calls the poor blessed. (Luke 6:20) Does toil frighten you? No athlete is crowned but in the sweat of his brow. Are you anxious as regards food? Faith fears no famine. Do you dread the bare ground for limbs wasted with fasting? The Lord lies there beside you. Do you recoil from an unwashed head and uncombed hair? Christ is your true head. Does the boundless solitude of the desert terrify you? In the spirit you may walk always in paradise. Do but turn your thoughts there and you will be no more in the desert.
      • Letter 14, 10; Translated by W.H. Fremantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. [1]
  • Si rivus tenuiter fluit, non est alvei culpa, sed fontis.
    • If there is but little water in the stream, it is the fault, not of the channel, but of the source.
      • Letter 17
  • Cum subito raptus in spiritu....
    • Suddenly I was caught up in the spirit and dragged before the judgment seat of the Judge; and here the light was so bright, and those who stood around were so radiant, that I cast myself upon the ground and did not dare to look up. Asked who and what I was I replied "I am a Christian." But He who presided said: "Thou liest; thou art a follower of Cicero and not of Christ. For where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also." Instantly I became dumb, and amid the strokes of the lash—for He had ordered me to be scourged—I was tortured more severely still by the fire of conscience, considering with myself that verse "In the grave, who shall give thee thanks?"
      • Letter 22 (to Eustochium), §30
  • Asino quippe lyra superflue canit.
    • It is idle to play the lyre for an ass.
      • Letter 27; Translated by W.H. Fremantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. [2]
  • Nisi quod in se habet mordacis aliquid veritatis.
    • Everything must have in it a sharp seasoning of truth.
      • Letter 31
  • Ita se natura habet, ut amara sit veritas, blanda vitia existimentur.
    • Yet such is the order of nature. While truth is always bitter, pleasantness waits upon evildoing.
      • Letter 40
  • Et sicut viri fortes in controversiis solent facere, culpam praemio redimerem.
    • And had I taken the line—so often adopted by strong men in controversy—of justifying the means by the result.
      • Letter 48
  • Non confundant opera tua sermonem tuum: ne cum in Ecclesia loqueris, tacitus quilibet respondeat, cur ergo haec quae dicis, ipse non facis?
    • Do not let your deeds belie your words, lest when you speak in church someone may say to himself, "Why do you not practice what you preach?"
      • Letter 52
  • Nemo invito auditori libenter refert. Sagitta in lapidem nunquam figitur, interdum resiliens percutit dirigentem.
    • No one cares to speak to an unwilling listener. An arrow never lodges in a stone: often it recoils upon the sender of it.
      • Letter 52
  • Facile contemnitur clericus, qui saepe vocatus ad prandium, ire non recusat.
    • That clergyman soon becomes an object of contempt who being often asked out to dinner never refuses to go.
      • Letter 52
  • Negotiatorem clericum, et ex inope divitem, ex ignobili gloriosum quasi quandam pestem fuge.
    • A clergyman who engages in business, and who rises from poverty to wealth, and from obscurity to a high position, avoid as you would the plague.
  • Ne hoc quidem scire quod nescias.
    • It is worse still to be ignorant of your ignorance.
      • Letter 53
  • Bruta quoque animalia et vagae aves, in easdem pedicas retiaque non incidunt.
    • Even brute beasts and wandering birds do not fall into the same traps or nets twice.
    • Even brute beasts and flying birds do not fall into the same snares twice.
  • Interdum animus dominarum ex ancillarum habitu iudicatur.
    • Sometimes the character of the mistress is inferred from the dress of her maids.
      • Letter 54
  • Alius vulnus, nostra sit cautio.
  • Plenus venter facile de ieiuniis disputat.
    • When the stomach is full, it is easy to talk of fasting.
      • Letter 58
  • Grandes materias ingenia parva non sufferunt.
    • Small minds can never handle great themes.
      • Letter 60
  • O mors quae fratres dividis, et amore societos, crudelis ac dura dissocias.
    • O death that dividest brothers knit together in love, how cruel, how ruthless you are so to sunder them!
      • Letter 60; Translated by W.H. Fremantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. [3]
  • Quotidie morimur, quotidie commutamur, et tamen aternos nos esse credimus.
    • Every day we are changing, every day we are dying, and yet we fancy ourselves eternal.
      • Letter 60; Translated by W.H. Fremantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. [4]
  • Difficulter eraditur, quod rudes animi praebiberunt. Lanarum conchylia quis in pristinum colorem revocet?
    • Early impressions are hard to eradicate from the mind. When once wool has been dyed purple, who can restore it to its previous whiteness?
      • Letter 107
  • Proclivis est enim malorum aemulatio, et quorum virtutes assequi nequeas, cito imitaris vitia.
    • We are always ready to imitate what is evil; and faults are quickly copied where virtues appear inattainable.
      • Leter 107
  • Let your daughter have first of all the book of Psalms for holiness of heart, and be instructed in the Proverbs of Solomon for her godly life.
    • Letter 107
  • The tired ox treads with a firmer step.
    • Letter 112
  • Athletes as a rule are stronger than their backers; yet the weaker presses the stronger to put forth all his efforts.
    • Letter 118
  • Audio religiosam habere te matrem, multorum annorum viduam, quae aluit, quae erudivit infantem et post studia Galliarum, quae vel florentissima sunt, misit Romam non parcens sumptibus et absentiam filii spe sustinens futurorum, ut ubertatem Gallici nitoremque sermonis gravitas Romana condiret nec calcaribus in te sed frenis uteretur, quod et in disertissimis viris Graeciae legimus, qui Asianum tumorem Attico siccabat sale et luxuriantes flagellis vineas falcibus reprimebant, ut eloquentiae toreularia non verborum pampinis, sed sensuum quasi uvarum expressionibus redundarent.
    • I am told that your mother is a religious woman, a widow of many years' standing; and that when you were a child she reared and taught you herself. Afterwards when you had spent some time in the flourishing schools of Gaul she sent you to Rome, sparing no expense and consoling herself for your absence by the thought of the future that lay before you. She hoped to see the exuberance and glitter of your Gallic eloquence toned down by Roman sobriety, for she saw that you required the rein more than the spur. So we are told of the greatest orators of Greece that they seasoned the bombast of Asia with the salt of Athens and pruned their vines when they grew too fast. For they wished to fill the wine-press of eloquence not with the tendrils of mere words but with the rich grape-juice of good sense.
    • Letter 125 (Ad Rusticum Monachum)
  • It is no fault of Christianity that a hypocrite falls into sin.
    • Letter 125
  • The charges we bring against others often come home to ourselves; we inveigh against faults which are as much ours as theirs; and so our eloquence ends by telling against ourselves.
    • Letter 125
  • Neither Britain, a province fertile in tyrants, nor the people of Ireland, knew Moses and the prophets.
    • Letter 133
  • A dreadful rumor reached us from the West. We heard that Rome was besieged, that the citizens were buying their safety with gold, and that when they had been thus despoiled they were again beleaguered, so as to lose not only their substance but their lives. ...The speaker's voice failed and sobs interrupted his utterance. The city which had taken the whole world was itself taken; nay, it fell by famine before it fell by the sword, and there were but few to be found to be made prisoner.
    • Letter to Lady Principia (412) bewailing the sack of Rome by the Visigoths on August 24, 410; as quoted by John Freely in Before Galileo: The Birth of Modern Science in Medieval Europe (2012)



Old Testament

  • Privilegia paucorum non faciunt legem.
    • The privileges of a few do not make common law.
    • Exposition on Jona
  • Ignoratio Scripturarum, ignoratio Christi est.
    • Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.
    • Commentary on Isaiah, Prologue
  • They fill their houses through the plunder and losses of others, so that the saying of the philosophers may be fulfilled, 'Every rich man is unjust or the heir of an unjust one.' (Omnis dives aut iniquis aut iniqui haeres.)
    • Commentary on Jeremiah

New Testament

  • Non digne Graeca in Latinum transfero: aut Graecos lege (si ejusdem linguae habes scientiam); aut si tantum Latinus es, noli de gratuito munere judicare, et, ut vulgare proverbium est: equi dentes inspicere donati.
    • I translate Greek into Latin unworthily. Either read Greek works (if you have knowledge of the language) or, if you know only Latin, do not unnecessarily judge gifts and, as the common saying goes, look a gift horse in the mouth [lit. "teeth"].
    • On the Epistle to the Ephesians, prologue
  • Before Arius arose in Alexandria as a demon of the south, things were said incautiously [regarding the Trinity] which cannot be defended against a malevolent criticism.
    • Book II, sec. 17
  • Innocence would be dead long ago if wickedness were always allied to power, and calumny could prevail in all that it seeks to accomplish.
    • Book II, sec. 24
  • To die is the lot of all, to commit homicide only of the weak man.
    • Book III, sec. 2
  • Pardon me for having praised Origen's zeal for Scriptural learning in my youthful days before I fully knew his heresies; and I will grant you (Rufinus) forgiveness for having written an Apology for his works when your head was grey.
    • Book III, sec. 9
  • In the case of Tertullian we praise his great talent, but we condemn his heresy. In that of Origen we admire his knowledge of the Scriptures, but nevertheless we do not accept his false doctrine. As to Didymus, however, we extol both his powers of memory, and the purity of his faith in the Trinity, while on the other point in which he erred in trusting to Origen we withdraw from him. The vices of our teachers are not to be imitated, their virtues are.
    • Book III, sec. 27
  • To sin is human, to lay snares is diabolical.
    • Book III, sec. 33
  • "When you have said what you like, you shall bear what you do not like."
    • Book III, sec. 42
    • Jerome quotes this as an anonymous "vulgar saying".
Jerome presents this work as a transcription of a dialogue between an Orthodoxus (hardly a real name) and Helladius the Luciferian. The following quotes are taken only from words that Jerome ascribes to Orthodoxus:
  • To be deceived is the common lot of both layman and bishop.
  • The truth is, men are elected to the episcopate who come from the bosom of Plato and Aristophanes. How many can you find among them who are not fully instructed in these writers? All, whoever they may be, that are ordained at the present day from among the literate class make it their study not how to seek out the marrow of Scripture, but how to tickle the ears of the people with the flowers of rhetoric.
    • sec. 11
  • “According to your faith, be it done unto you,” says God. (Matt 9:29) I do not, indeed, like the sound of those words. For if it be done unto me according to my faith, I shall perish. And yet I certainly believe in God the Father, I believe in God the Son, and I believe in God the Holy Ghost. I believe in one God; nevertheless, I would not have it done unto me according to my faith. For the enemy often comes, and sows tares in the Lord's harvest. I do not mean to imply that anything is greater than the purity of heart which believes that mystery; but undoubted faith towards God it is hard indeed to find.
  • I could not pray, if I did not believe; but if I really believed, I should cleanse that heart of mine with which God is seen, I should beat my hands upon my breast, the tears would stream down my cheeks, my body would shudder, my face grow pale, I should lie at my Lord's feet, weep over them, and wipe them with my hair, I should cling to the cross and not let go my hold until I obtained mercy. But, as it is, frequently in my prayers I am either walking in the arcades, or calculating my interest, or am carried away by base thoughts, so as to be occupied with things the mere mention of which makes me blush.
    • sec. 15
  • It is not the sheep only who abide in the Church.
  • No one can take to himself the prerogative of Christ, no one before the day of judgment can pass judgment upon men. If the Church is already cleansed, what shall we reserve for the Lord?
    • sec. 22
  • Let them not flatter themselves if they think they have Scripture authority for their assertions, since the devil himself quoted Scripture, and the essence of the Scriptures is not the letter, but the meaning. Otherwise, if we follow the letter, we too can concoct a new dogma and assert that such persons as wear shoes and have two coats must not be received into the Church. (Matt 10:10)
    • sec. 28
De Viris Illustribus (On Illustrious Men) – full English version (trans. E. C. Richardson)
  • A quo et affixus cruci, martyrio coronatus est, capite ad terram verso, et in sublime pedibus elevatis: asserens se indignum qui sic crucifigeretur ut Dominus suus.
    • At [Nero's] hands [Peter] received the crown of martyrdom being nailed to the cross with his head towards the ground and his feet raised on high, asserting that he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord.
      • Chapter 1
  • Hic ergo quarto decimo Neronis anno, eodem die quo Petrus Romae, pro Christo capite truncatur, sepultusque est in via Ostiensi, anno post passionem Domini tricesimo septimo.
    • [Paul] then, in the fourteenth year of Nero on the same day with Peter, was beheaded at Rome for Christ's sake and was buried in the Ostian way, the twenty-seventh year after our Lord's passion.
      • Chapter 5
Adversus Jovinianum (Against Jovinianus) – full English version (trans. W.H. Fremantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley)
  • Just as divorce according to the Saviour's word was not permitted from the beginning, but on account of the hardness of our heart was a concession of Moses to the human race, so too the eating of flesh was unknown until the deluge. But after the deluge, like the quails given in the desert to the murmuring people, the poison of flesh-meat was offered to our teeth. … At the beginning of the human race we neither ate flesh, nor gave bills of divorce, nor suffered circumcision for a sign. Thus we reached the deluge. But after the deluge, together with the giving of the law which no one could fulfil, flesh was given for food, and divorce was allowed to hard-hearted men, and the knife of circumcision was applied, as though the hand of God had fashioned us with something superfluous. But once Christ has come in the end of time, and Omega passed into Alpha and turned the end into the beginning, we are no longer allowed divorce, nor are we circumcised, nor do we eat flesh.
    • Book I, 18
  • Diogenes maintains that tyrants do not bring about revolutions in cities, and foment wars civil or foreign for the sake of a simple diet of vegetables and fruits, but for costly meats and the delicacies of the table. And, strange to say, Epicurus, the defender of pleasure, in all his books speaks of nothing but vegetables and fruits; and he says that we ought to live on cheap food because the preparation of sumptuous banquets of flesh involves great care and suffering, and greater pains attend the search for such delicacies than pleasures the consumption of them. … Persons who feed on flesh want also gratifications not found in flesh. But they who adopt a simple diet do not look for flesh. … The soul greatly exults when you are content with little: you have the world beneath your feet, and can exchange all its power, its feasts, and its lusts, the objects for which men rake money together, for common food, and make up for them all with a sack-cloth shirt.
    • Book II, 11
  • Dicæarchus in his book of Antiquities, describing Greece, relates that under Saturn, that is in the Golden Age, when the ground brought forth all things abundantly, no one ate flesh, but every one lived on field produce and fruits which the earth bore of itself.
    • Book II, 13
  • Xenocrates the philosopher writes that at Athens out of all the laws of Triptolemus only three precepts remain in the temple of Ceres: respect to parents, reverence for the gods, and abstinence from flesh. Orpheus in his song utterly denounces the eating of flesh. I might speak of the frugality of Pythagoras, Socrates, and Antisthenes to our confusion: but it would be tedious, and would require a work to itself. At all events this is the Antisthenes who, after teaching rhetoric with renown, on hearing Socrates, is related to have said to his disciples, «Go, and seek a master, for I have now found one.» He immediately, sold what he had, divided the proceeds among the people, and kept nothing for himself but a small cloak. … His most famous follower was the great Diogenes, who was mightier than King Alexander in that he conquered human nature.
    • Book II, 14
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