Św. Hieronim – magister puellarum

Teresa Wnętrzak


Letter 130 is written by Jerome to Demetrias, a member of a noble Roman family, who took the decision to live in chastity when the day of her wedding was close. It happened in
dramatic circumstances, after Rome had been taken by Alaric, when, as many other Romans, she fled to Africa with her family. In this letter Jerome repeats the suggestions presented
in Letter 22. Taking into consideration the high social and material status of the addressee, he emphasizes that, when she inherits the family fortune, she should not devote the money
to building magnificent churches, but to helping the poor, especially the monks and nuns in  monasteries. He also warns Demetrias against the teaching of heretics, especially against the
mistakes of Origen and Pelagius. Letter 107 was sent to Laeta, Paula’s daughter-in-law, who had just given birth to a baby
girl. Jerome is convinced that marriage and having children is justified as long as the children are devoted to God. Therefore he sketches out the rules that should guide the whole process
of upbringing of Paula the Younger, including her literary education. Letter 107 is admired as a text that presents a new Jerome, tender in his love of children and ready to engage in
a dialogue with them. There are fragments that reveal his pedagogical insight and intuition. For his concept of upbringing he adapted the suggestions and instructions of Quintilian and
he often paraphrases quotes from Institutio Oratoria.
In Letter 128 Jerome writes to Gaudentius. The letter contains some advice concerning the upbringing of Pacatula, whom her father dedicated to a life of virginity. The background
of the severe educational programme is the image of the world falling in ruin, when the whole western part of the Roman Empire is devastated by the barbarian raids, and Rome has been sacked by Alaric. As a moralist and spiritual guide, Jerome uses the instability and fear characterizing the life of the epoch as an argument for the necessity of renouncing the world
and living in asceticism. He teaches what principles should guide an inexperienced girl dedicated to virginity before she herself knows the difference between the good and the evil.
The discussed texts of St. Jerome are part of the vast literary heritage concerning virginity that was left by the Fathers of the Church of the 4th century. At that time, the interest in the theological aspect of celibacy was caused by the fact that, after the persecution had ceased, Christianity began to promote a new model of sainthood. Still martyrs received the greatest awe, but the important second place was given to the ascetics, in whose
lives chastity was perceived as the crucial virtue.

Słowa kluczowe

późny antyk, Święty Hieronim, edukacja

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