The Life of St. Jerome
The Great Doctor of the Church
by Rev. Father Fray Jose De Siguenza
The venerable monks of the Order of St. Jerome in Madrid in 1853, desirous of preserving this valuable work on the Life of St. Jerome, written by a monk universally considered as one of the most brilliant classical writers of Spain, both for purity of style and grandeur of diction, decided upon publishing a new edition.To download the entire book, click on the link below.
The work is divided into Six Books, comprising the Seven Ages Of Man. The original was published in 1595, and formed a work of some 580 pages of about 400 words. The new edition, of which the present issue is a translation, was brought out with two short discourses by Fray Juan Gonzalez on the learned author, an epitome of which 1 proceed to give in English, in order to afford the reader some idea of the Spanish writer of the renowned Life of Saint Jerome.
"At the middle of the sixteenth century, at the period when in Spain Belles-Lettres were as advanced as the profession of arms, and when both the study of letters and the profession of arms were as much attended to as religion itself, there was born in the city of Sigiienza the venerable and renowned historian who contributed to the Jeromite Order so much glory, and to letters so great an advancement.
From his earliest years this classical writer manifested a great love of study, and the progress he made in the years of his childhood and youth, was so marked that all who knew him felt convinced that he would some day prove to be no ordinary man, since he was becoming' so distinguished at the very commencement of life. The religious orders, with their glorious traditions, scientific and literary, afforded a beneficent asylum to science, as well as to virtue, and in the solitude of their cloisters, saints and sages grew up together and flourished. In those days the religious of St. Jerome were much esteemed, and protected by the Spanish monarchs, and it was into this Order that our student of Siguenza sought to enter and obtained admission, where he soon surpassed his companions in learning and talent.
After repeated entreaties, he received the holy habit in the celebrated monastery del Parral de Segovia, in which the uncle of our novice was one of the community. To be able to state how the monks watched his progress in the strict observance of the rule, and his growth in virtue, would be a sufficient matter for a whole treatise. The holy monks, who considered that Father Joseph of Siguenza was destined for great things, sent him to the Royal College of San Lorenzo to complete his studies, where, later on, he became one of the first religious when, in 1575, the monks were translated from Parral to the sumptuous monastery that Philip II. bequeathed to future generations. Here, first as a disciple, and subsequently as master, he acquired great renown for his piety and assiduity in study, so much so, that he acquired a great influence among his companions, and an authority which was acknowledged even by that great king, who ever listened to him with deepest respect.
Inflexible towards himself, charitable and indulgent to others, most tenderly loving towards God, in study untiring, ever foremost in the religious observance of humility and all other Christian virtues, a true model of the religious life, Father Jose de Siguenza was justly renowned in life, and died the death of a saintly man on the 22nd of May 1606. His memory is deeply respected in the holy Order wherein he professed, and of his virtues the loftiest idea is preserved." "The chief works he bequeathed to us by his profound learning were the history, or life, which is the subject of this book, and two parts of the history of his Order."
"Father Jose of Siguenza is rightly considered to be one of the first Castilian classical writers, and under his brilliant pen the rich, harmonious language of Castile has lent itself grandly to develop the ideas of the illustrious sage." This history, or life of St. Jerome, is a masterpiece in more senses than one; and in our epoch, when every one writes, and the greater number do so in a flippant manner, it appears to me, that the Jeromite Fathers have rendered a signal service to science and letters, to reprint his grand work at their expense; a work which has long been sought after by all erudite men who love the literature of Spain.
It is this work which I have translated, that my humble efforts may make it known to the English-speaking races, who appreciate all that is grand and noble, and true of all nations, and even give them an honoured place in their libraries.
The order of procedure followed in writing this Life will be the same as the saint followed ; for since God bestowed on him such length of days that he passed through all the ages and periods which divide the life of man, we shall divide the history into the Seven Ages of Man, because God willed that his long life should give us to understand the great importance his life would be to the world.--Preface
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