Have you ever met someone from Stridon of Illyrian ancestry?

Eusebius came from there and lovers of Scripture thank him for his service

By Pedro A. Moreno, O.P.
Director, Office of Hispanic Ministry

While no one is sure where Stridon is, some historians place it somewhere near modern Bosnia, Croatia or Slovenia. Seventeen centuries ago, a unique young man was born there and he was instrumental in bringing us closer to Christ.

Eusebius, and I’m not speaking about a famous archbishop emeritus that we all know and love, was a traveler and a lifelong student. He became a Christian after a profound conversion experience when he was around 20 and a student in Rome.

There, he was studying Philology. A philologist studies language in written historical sources; it’s a combined study of literary criticism, history and linguistics.

At the end of his studies in Rome he left for Trier, a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle, to study theology. After that, he settled for a while in the ancient Roman city of Aquileia located at the head of the Adriatic about six miles from the sea. While there, he convinced some of his friends to join him on an adventure. They would travel into northern Syria. The journey changed their lives forever.

When this group of adventurers reached Antioch, some fell ill and died. Eusebius also became seriously ill, and for a long time he just couldn’t get rid of this strange illness. One night, during his battle with this persistent sickness, he had a vision where the Lord invited him to devote himself to the Scriptures. He accepted and began a life of prayer and penance as part of his commitment to study the biblical languages.

As time went on Eusebius continued to travel, study and, above all, follow a life of prayer and penance. He devoted himself wholeheartedly to the Word of God. He even was chosen to be bishop!

He wound up in Rome again and was chosen to be the pope’s secretary. While he did many wonderful things, one thing stands out. Upon seeing his gifts for language and his love of Scripture, the Holy Father asked Eusebius to undertake a revision of the Latin Bible. Thanks to him, not only was the Church blessed with the Vulgate Bible translation, but we also received from him many wonderful commentaries to the various books of the Bible.

During the week of Nov. 12-18, we will be celebrating the 76th National Bible Week when all of the baptized are called to come together and give special honor to God’s word. That Sunday is the International Day of the Bible. In preparation for this event, Pope Francis welcomed and blessed the members of the Church Relations Committee of the United Bible Societies at the Vatican. His message to them was powerful. 

“We are servants of the word of salvation, which never returns to the Lord empty. We are servants of the word of eternal life, and we believe that man not only lives on bread, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (cf. Mt 4:4). We are servants of the word of reconciliation, also among Christians, and we wish with all our heart that ‘the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph’ (2 Thess 3:1). We are servants of the word that ‘went out’ from God and ‘was made flesh’ (Jn 1:14). We are servants of the word of truth (cf. Jn 8:32). We are servants of the powerful word of God that enlightens, protects, defends, heals and frees.”  
The full name of today’s saint is Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus, but we know him as Saint Jerome, Doctor of the Church. 

He reminded us that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. Saint Jerome, pray for us and help us honor God’s word following the example of your love and passion for Scripture. Amen.