Paula 347 – 404 A.D.
Early Friend of Education and Philanthropy
347 – 404 A.D.
This illustrious saint was of noble Roman birth, being descended from the Scipios and Gracchi. She was born in luxury and lived in great magnificence, being considered one of the richest women of antiquity. She moved in the very highest circles of society in an aristocratic age. She is said to have owned a whole city in Italy.
Her natural gifts and education were in keeping with her fortune and social position.
Christianity had become the religion of the state, having been made such by Constantine, who died ten years before Paula was born. With her, the religion of Jesus was not alone of the state, but of the heart. With her, it was not merely a form, but a life, an enthusiastic and passionate life. The scholars of the Church made her palace their home. She became the patroness of educational and philanthropic work.
Paula is known to the world as the disciple and friend of the noted scholar Jerome, whose monumental work was the translation of the entire Bible into the Latin tongue. This version is known as the Vulgate. From it the modern Catholic Bible, the Douay version, is translated.
Upon the death of her husband, Toxotius, Paula put aside her luxurious living and devoted herself rigidly to study, prayer, and works of charity. She lived as the poorest slave, but gave as a princess. Her desire was to die in beggary and be buried in a shroud which did not belong to her.
With other kindred spirits she journeyed to Antioch, Jerusalem, and Egypt, and finally settled at Bethlehem, where she built a monastery, hospital, and three nunneries. Jerome presided over the monastery and carried on his literary work.
In Paula we have a noble example of the Christian friendship of a woman for man. Jerome and Paula renounced and despised the pleasures and even the comforts of the world. Teacher and pupil, they were co-workers in promoting monastic life, which at first was a protest against the indulgence and corruption of the age.
Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.