Hieronymus Stridonensis
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Letter - Epistle 11
(alias 39; scripta eodem tempore, quo superior)

To the Virgins of Æmona

Ad Virgines Æmonenses

Æmona was a Roman colony not far from Stridon, Jerome's birthplace. The virgins to whom the note is addressed had omitted to answer his letters, and he now writes to upbraid them for their remissness. The date of the letter is 374 A.D.

(Note: This English synopsis is not a translation of the Latin version.)

Conqueritur, quod Virgines Aemonae in Italiae finibus degentes, saepe ab eo litteris provocatae, nunquam rescripserint, ostenditque non esse suis obtrectatoribus credendum.
This scanty sheet of paper shows in what a wilderness I live, and because of it I have to say much in few words. For, desirous though I am to speak to you more fully, this miserable scrap compels me to leave much unsaid. Still ingenuity makes up for lack of means, and by writing small I can say a great deal. Observe, I beseech you, how I love you, even in the midst of my difficulties, since even the want of materials does not stop me from writing to you.

Pardon, I beseech you, an aggrieved man: if I speak in tears and in anger it is because I have been injured. For in return for my regular letters you have not sent me a single syllable. Light, I know, has no communion with darkness, [2 Corinthians 6:14] and God's handmaidens no fellowship with a sinner, yet a harlot was allowed to wash the Lord's feet with her tears, and dogs are permitted to eat of their masters' crumbs. [Matthew 15:27] It was the Saviour's mission to call sinners and not the righteous; for, as He said Himself, they that be whole need not a physician." [Matthew 9:12-13] He wills the repentance of a sinner rather than his death, [Ezekiel 33:11] and carries home the poor stray sheep on His own shoulders. [Luke 15:5] So, too, when the prodigal son returns, his father receives him with joy. [Luke 15:20] Nay more, the apostle says: "Judge nothing before the time." [1 Corinthians 4:5] For "who are you that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he stands or falls." [Romans 14:4] And "let him that stands take heed lest he fall." [1 Corinthians 10:12] "Bear ye one another's burdens." [Galatians 6:2]

Chartae exiguitas indicium solitudinis est; et idcirco longum sermonem brevi spatio coarctavi; quia et vobiscum volebam prolixius loqui, et angustia schedulae cogebat tacere. Nunc igitur ingenio est victa pauperies. Minutae quidem litterae, sed confabulatio longa est. Et tamen in hoc necessitatis articulo animadvertite caritatem, cum me nec penuria scriptionis valuerit prohibere, ne scriberem. Vos autem, ignoscite, obsecro, dolenti; dico enim laesus, dico lacrymans et irascens: ne unum quidem apicem, toties vobis tribuenti officium, praestitistis. Scio quia nulla communio luci et tenebris est: nulla cum ancillis Dei, peccatori societas. Attamen et meretrix Domino pedes lacrymis lavit (Luc. 7), et de dominorum micis canes edunt (Matth. 15). Et ipse Salvator non venit justos vocare, sed peccatores. Non enim egent sani medico (Ibid. 5. 31). Et magis vult poenitentiam peccatoris, quam mortem. Et errantem oviculam suis humeris refert. Et prodigum filium revertentem, excipit laetus pater (Luc. 15). Quin potius Apostolus ait: Nolite judicare ante tempus (1. Cor. 4. 5). Tu enim quis es, qui alienum servum judices? Suo Domino stat, aut cadit (Rom. 14. 4). Et, qui stat, videat ne cadat. Et, invicem onera vestra portate (Galat. 6. 2).
Dear sisters, man's envy judges in one way, Christ in another; and the whisper of a corner is not the same as the sentence of His tribunal. Many ways seem right to men which are afterwards found to be wrong. [Proverbs 14:12] And a treasure is often stowed in earthen vessels. [2 Corinthians 4:7] Peter thrice denied his Lord, yet his bitter tears restored him to his place. "To whom much is forgiven, the same loves much." [Luke 7:47] No word is said of the flock as a whole, yet the angels joy in heaven over the safety of one sick ewe. [Luke 15:7, 10] And if any one demurs to this reasoning, the Lord Himself has said: "Friend, is your eye evil because I am good?" [Matthew 20:15] Aliter, sorores carissimae, hominum livor, aliter Christus judicat. Non eadem sententia est tribunalis ejus, et anguli susurronum. Multae hominibus viae videntur justae (Prov. 14. 12), quae postea reperiuntur pravae. Et in testaceis vasculis thesaurus saepe reconditur. Petrum ter negantem (Matth. 26), amarae in suum locum restituere lacrymae. Cui plus dimittitur, plus amat (Luc. 7. 47). De toto grege siletur, et ob unius morbidae pecudis salutem Angeli laetantur in coelo. Quod si cui videtur indignum, audiat a Domino: Amice, si ego bonus sum, quare oculus tuus nequam est (Matth. 20. 15)?

In Jerome's time, the location of Æmona overlapped with the Southwest part of the old nucleus of the modern city of Ljubljana, and where numerous remains can still be found today.

  • New Advent (The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913), Fathers of the Church, Letters of St. Jerome - http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3001.htm
  • Paracalypsis, Patrologiae, Hiedronimus - http://patrologia.narod.ru/patrolog/hieronym/

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Created: Wednesday, October  03, 2007; Last Updated: Sunday, September 15, 2013
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