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E06523: Jerome describes how Paula travelled through Palestine in 385-6 and visited the fountain of *Elisha (Old Testament prophet, S00239) near Jericho; Letter 108, written in Latin in Bethlehem (Palestine), 404.

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posted on 17.09.2018, 00:00 by Philip
Jerome of Stridon, Letter 108.12 ('Epitaphium Sanctae Paulae')

Et fontem quondam legis amarissimum et sterilem quem verus Heliseus sua condivit sapientia et in dulcorem ubertatemque convertit.

'The once extremely bitter and barren fountain of the Law which the true Elisha sprinkled with his wisdom, making it sweet and abundant.'

Text: Hilberg 1996 (1912). Translation: Cain 2013.

History

Evidence ID

E06523

Saint Name

Elisha : S00239

Saint Name in Source

Heliseus

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

404

Evidence not after

404

Activity not before

385

Activity not after

386

Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Bethlehem

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Bethlehem Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Jerome of Stridon

Cult activities - Places

Holy spring/well/river

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women

Source

In the second half of 404 Jerome composed an Epitaph for his late friend and patron, Paula, which was transmitted to us as letter 108. The work depicts Paula as an example for ascetic women and bears features of hagiography. Paula died on 26 January 404 in Bethlehem. She was the descendant of a Roman aristocratic family, who traced their lineage back to the Gracchi and Scipiones. She was dedicated to the western ascetic movement and had spent more than twenty years by the side of Jerome of Stridon, whom she had followed with her daughter Eustochium to the Holy Land in 385, where they founded a monastery and a convent in Bethlehem. Paula was not only Jerome's most faithful companion, but also his biggest sponsor. Jerome's Letter 108.8-13 describes Paula's pilgrimage through the Holy Land, which lasted from late winter 385 to late spring 386.

Discussion

According to the Old Testament, the prophet Elisha purified the water of a spring in Jericho (2 Kgs. 2:19-22). The site of the miracle may have been a cult site at the time of Paula's visit.

Bibliography

Edition: Hilberg, I., Hieronymus, Epistulae 71-120 (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 55; Vienna, 1996). Translation and commentary: Cain, A., Jerome's Epitaph on Paula: A Commentary on the Epitaphium Sanctae Paulae (Oxford, 2013).

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