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Restoring St Jerome to the Calendar

by
14 November 2014

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From the Revd Neville Manning

Sir, - Having read Canon Andrew Lenox-Conyngham's paper on St Jerome I note with interest your report "Historian calls for St Jerome's reinstatement in Calendar" (News, 31 October). The possible "upgrading" of Jerome from commemoration status to lesser-festival status in the calendar is worthy of serious consideration.

My interest arises from having been Vicar from 1977 to 1994 of one of the few Anglican parishes to have the St Jerome dedication (St Jerome's, Dawley, Hillingdon, London). We always made an effort each year to keep our patronal festival (30 September), and that involved finding out about Jerome and his work. While it is true that he was not always the "nicest" of people, he was none the less responsible for the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible, which influenced other translations in later years, and so had a lasting impact.

In the present time of disturbing biblical illiteracy, not only in society at large but also in many Christian congregations, the suggested "upgrading" would be a clear signal about something that matters deeply. As for his lack of "niceness" - and, yes, Jerome's record in personal relationships left much to be desired - I remember Bishop Michael Perham once pointing out that we don't remember saints simply for how good they were, or not, but because of our continuing fellowship with them.

I wonder also whether there is a need to go further than tidying up our remembrance of Christ's saints and servants in our liturgical calendar by actively encouraging our use of those days in both corporate and personal devotions. As I grow older, one avenue of grace which I have come to value is the cumulative sense that in Christ's service we are never alone, but are one with all who have been "the chosen vessels of thy grace and lights of the world in their several generations".

NEVILLE MANNING
7 Spinnaker Court
Salvador Close
Eastbourne BN23 5TB

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