A CAMPAIGN has been launched to reinstate St Jerome in the
Church of England's calendar after a retired priest and church
historian noticed that the ancient Church Father's saint's day had
The feast of St Jerome, who lived between AD 347 and 420, is
recorded in the calendar in Common Worship as a
Commemoration, the lowest rung of recognition for a saint's day.
His contemporaries and fellow Doctors of the Church, St Augustine
of Hippo, St Ambrose, and St Gregory the Great, however, are all
denoted as Lesser Festivals - a higher celebration.
Canon Andrew Lenox-Conyngham, who studied church history at the
University of Cambridge, has written an academic paper arguing for
St Jerome's day to be reinstated to a Lesser Festival, and has
begun to rally supporters to his cause.
"I was appalled when I saw in Common Worship that he
had been demoted," he said. "In the Book of Common Prayer he was at
the same level as Augustine. I thought it was outrageous."
In the Book of Common Prayer, St Jerome, in common with the
other Latin fathers of the Church, was commemorated in a Lesser
Festival. In the Alternative Service Book from 1980, however, the
calendar was streamlined.
Canon Lenox-Conyngham writes: "It is difficult to think of any
reason for this other than the fact that Jerome does not satisfy
the Anglican criterion of 'niceness', i.e. because he was not,
perhaps, a very pleasant character."
Paradoxically, he writes, recognition of St Jerome's historical
significance had actually increased in recent decades. "Purely as a
scholar Jerome was unequalled."
Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, a church historian from the
University of Oxford, said last week that St Jerome was an
important figure in early Christianity.
"He was hugely significant in that he retranslated the biblical
texts, and that translation has effectively [been used] down to the
present day," he said. "He was an extremel disagreeable man, and
quarrelled with almost everyone he knew."
Professor MacCulloch also said that St Jerome's writings and
life were part of the reason why the Church began to value celibacy
so highly. "He is one of the four Latin Doctors of the Church who
are constantly portrayed as a group," he said.
Professor MacCulloch said that St Jerome should be reinstated in
the C of E calendar "as long as people know about his divided
history. He is a figure of huge historic significance, and it is
always good for us to remember that saints are no better than we
Canon Lenox-Conyngham is now encouraging his supporters to write
to the Liturgical Commission, asking them to restore St Jerome's
day to the status of a Lesser Festival, and to their diocesan
representatives on the General Synod.
Nevertheless, the Commission appeared unmoved by his pleas. In a
statement, a spokeswoman said: "The Liturgical Commission was
responsible for the Calendar we now have, and will be responsible,
in due course, for revising it. We will acknowledge any responses
and deal with them when preparing the next revision - not due until