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Home > Fathers of the Church > Letters of St. Jerome > Letter 11

Letter 11

To the Virgins of Æmona

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.

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

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

About this page

Source. Translated by W.H. Fremantle, G. Lewis and W.G. Martley. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3001011.htm>.

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