[Update: In my struggle with this thing called WordPress, my picture of Saint Jerome seems to be hiding. If you click on where the empty space for it is, you’ll get to see it, though. Don’t hold your breath while I try to fix this (I’ll gladly take tips though!) – it might take me a year…]
[Update update: I did it! And it didn’t take me a year! Anyway, you can now also see Saint Jerome – enjoy.]
Okay, so the title is a bit misleading since these guys aren’t actual doctors. The title “doctor” (as I explained in my last post) just means that these guys really know their stuff when it comes to the Church and theology and all that good stuff. But actually.
Anyway, to the point: who are these guys? Well, a long, long time ago…
You know what? I’m just going to give it to you simply, in the form of Steckbriefe (that’s German for, uh, short profiles. Actually, they’re wanted posters, but we’ll just ignore that. It literally means “a letter that is to be stuck onto something,” or something to that effect):
Philippe de Champaigne
Saint Augustine of Hippo
Born: 13 November 354; Thagaste, Numidia (modern-day Algeria)
Died: 28 August 430; Hippo-Regius, Numidia (also modern-day Algeria)
Feast Day: August 28
Canonization: 1298, Pope Boniface VIII
Patron of: brewers, printers, theologians, alleviation of sore eyes, Augustinians
Attributes: pierced heart, bishop’s staff, dove, child
Backstory: Born to a Christian mother and a pagan father (he converted on his deathbed), Augustine was raised Christian but left the Church in favor of Manichaeism and led a hedonistic life. He taught grammar in Carthage for a bit and then moved on to Rome and Milan. In 386, Augustine converted to Christianity and was baptized by St. Ambrose. After his mother’s death in 388, he gave away all of his belongings except his family’s home, which he converted into a monastery. In 391 he was ordained a priest and in 395 he became bishop of Hippo.
Spiritual things are superior to earthly things – the soul is above the body, spiritual love is more significant than earthly (or carnal) love.
God created the universe all at once – the 7-day thing is just a structure applied to make the creation story easier to understand.
City of God (published 426)
St. Monica, mother (331-87)
St. Ambrose, baptized him (337-97)
St. Thomas Aquinas, follower (1225-74)
Map drawn by yours truly. I think there’ll be more of these in the future – my inner wannabe cartographer and third grader rather enjoyed this little project! (Please ignore the ink showing through. I was trying to save the world and reuse paper, but my scanner decided to punish me anyway. )
2nd half of 17th c.
Born: 347; Stridon, Dalmatia
Died: 420, Bethlehem
Feast Day: 30 September (Western Church); 15 June (Eastern Church)
Canonization: Unknown (likely shortly after his death)
Patron of: archaeologists, archivists, librarians, Bible scholars, students, translators
Attributes: lion, skull, trumpet, owl
Backstory: Jerome studied grammar and classical authors in Rome, where he converted to Christianity and was baptized sometime in the 360s. In the 370s he traveled through Asia Minor until he reached Antioch, where he had a vision in which he was told to stop studying secular texts. So, Jerome dedicated himself to a life of asceticism and studied the Bible. In 386, he moved to Jerusalem, where he dedicated the rest the rest of his life to writing commentaries on Scripture and translating the Bible into Latin, although it is recorded that he died near Bethlehem.
Much of his writing defends Christian practices and beliefs, such as the Trinity and asceticism. Early in his career, Jerome used classical texts to explain Christian concepts.
Jerome is best known for his translations of major Christian documents.
The Vulgate (late 4th c.)
Chronicon (c. 380)
St. Paula, friend (347-404)
St. Marcella, correspondent (325-410)
So what about pilgrimage? Let’s start with some Latin:
In melius renovabimur. We will be changed into something better.
I think it’s safe to say that this is the basic idea of pilgrimage. Pilgrimage, whether spiritual or physical, changes a person in any number of ways. This can be anything from finding oneself to just getting physically fit. But we change. And it’s pretty safe to assume for the better. At least it should be that way.
St. Augustine is all about love. The guy actually gave an entire sermon on love. Here, Augustine emphasizes that Christianity is built on love, and so, naturally, we are also meant to love, but we must remember to “Love what God made, not what the person made.” Everything always comes back to God. It is spiritual love (which leads only to God) that we are meant to live out, and to do so, we have to go on a spiritual pilgrimage.
According to Augustine, we have to constantly work to attain the ultimate goal (entry into Heaven). This doesn’t come without struggle, obviously, but we must journey through these struggles to reach our destination, paradise. The human desire to express our love by earthly means is what Augustine calls amor and our spiritual journey culminates in the conversion from amor “to infinite and perfect good, which is the promised land of paradise, and the Prodigal’s return from a distant country.”
Perhaps the best way to understand Augustine is to read his Confessions, or his “odyssey of a soul,” in which he recounted his own spiritual pilgrimage from paganism and hedonism to trying to reach the ultimate destination through spiritual love.
St. Jerome’s pilgrimage is a little more literal. He traveled through Asia Minor to the Holy Land to visit the places associated with the life of Jesus. In the 30 plus years that Jerome lived in Jerusalem, he helped establish monasteries for men and women and even created a hostel for pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. But Jerome also agrees with Augustine that it’s not the fact of going to a sacred place but the way, or the spirit in which, we get there.
As St. Jerome points out, not every saint made pilgrimage to the Holy Land, yet they still became saints. By following their example and going on our own odyssey of the soul, we too are pilgrims.
Maybe there should be a bumper sticker:
Yes, I did just pull up a Word Doc and make this on a whim. Looks pretty good though for a ten second project, right?